Monday, January 31, 2011

I feel like somone out of Fiddler on the Roof, in terms of the way I've come to depend on tradition for comfort and relaxation, for a sense of life going on. Friday night, after having buried Liam's beloved first dog the day before, the family literally rolled back the rug, pushed the table out of the way, and danced to klezmer music for an hour after diinner. i felt so good in a very physical, deep way, laughing and physically tired, but eased out of tension and sadness. I stay in my head so much of hte time. I really am thankful for any tradion or ritual that lets me fall into relaxed happiness.
Seventy something this afternoon, seventeen tomorrow night. Texas weather really is a cliche (If you don't like it stick around and it will change.) I actually like the sudden shifts, especially in winter. It's been a hard week. We have a new grave in the back yard. Liam's little dog Duffy suffered sudden paralysis last Thursday and had to be put down. I was proud of Ruth, who was the adult in charge of decisions because Chris was at work. I felt sad for Liam, who loved LOVED his dog Duffy and who is actually doing quite well accepting that his dog is dead and that is sad. K.K. cried and cried, partly her age and partly her nature. Bob was and is a steady presence and made me smile toasting Duffy with soda when we went to Phil's IceHouse for a consolation meal after we buried the sweet little dog.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My mind is flitting all over tonight. Bob is starting to do volyunteer work in the refugee community here in Austin and he told me about a family from the Congo ( I met the sixth grade son) who lived ten years in refugee camps before getting refugee status in the US. They lived on corn, peas, beans, people crammed together, lots of illness - but better than the life they fled in which armed thugs killed anyone who wouldn't/couldn't give htem money. I think about Liam, so sweet and vulnerable in his bed, KK hurrying home from dance class to do homework, wondering what to wear tomorrow and worrying about high school next year. Our lives feel difficult sometimes, and yet they are so easy, so privleged. What hurts in our comfortable lifes hurts and absolute safety is an illusion. But still, it is much safer to be middle class in Austin Texas than to be in so many other circumstances - and utterly unearned.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

We celebrated the Sabbath of the trees with an amazing Chris meal which focused on fruits and vegetables, especially local and organic. It was wonderful to eat small potatos boiled in their skins in salt (salt potatos), figs and dates with a little cream cheese, fresh black berries, and a blueberry mustard sauce I could just not stop eating - so yummy! I do feel thankful for the fruits of the earth and focused on being responsible for the earth's health. I'm glad we are putting a garden in this spring - a small effort, but pleasing. I fear it is too late for our planet and don't want to believe that, want to believe that making an effort to live more lightly on earth will be a significant part of making a difference.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I love winter, at least relatively mild Texas winter. The bareness of the trees pleases me because it shows them stripped to essence, especially against the moonlit night sky. Last night the Sabbath moon rose yellow and fat, and later cast dramatic silver moon shadows of tree essence across the back yard. This week Jews celebrated the Sabbath of the trees and it made sense to me, pleased me, to think that the trees were resting at their sabbath, regathering energy in roots and trunks though not putting out leaves and flowers during this season. I've been especially aware of and moved by the trees all week, hope to write them a poem, though I haven't yet. What I have been doing is knitting like crazy, which is more fun than anything I've done in a long time. I'm just loving the colors and textures of yarn and also seeing my skills improve. It feels good to learn a new skill that produces useful objects, and it feels especially tender to be able to offer knitted objects to people having difficult times.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's funny. Generally these days highschoolers look really young to me. But when KK and I walked through the giant doors to MacCallum yesterday, the young people standing around in the hall and laughing in front of the school looked alarmingly grown up, amazingly sophisticated, and enormous. And KK, who usually seems pretty grown up, suddenly seemed alarmingly young, vulnerable, and in need of my protection. There is a huge difference between an eighth grader and a graduating senior. It will be a kick to watch/help KK make the journey of transformation from the one to the other, and also feels like a huge responsibility, one I take very seriously. She is so precious and I know high school can be dark with pain and peril as well as bright with fun, excitement, and chances for growth. Anyway, KK and I braved the very friendly secretary who guarded the admittance desk, turned in this letter, and managed to avoid holding hands as we walked out of the school. I feel so close to this little girl/young woman at this moment in time. I remember myself and her Mama and her Auntie at this time of life with tenderness. I'm relieved the letter's turned in and for now we just will continue as we have been.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It's odd about priorities. I get a little crazy about things that are important, but not life or death, like getting all the right paper work into the envelope to get KK signed up for the fine arts academy, even about which size and color envelope to use and what to write on the outside of it. Crazy! I know my anxiety is about not wanting to let KK down. She wrote a really good letter which expresses who she is, her dancer's voice, and she has the grades and the test scores and the training. This school is absolutely the right opportunity for her. I feel so much responsibility that she doesn't get rejected because I make some kind of dumb mistake with the paper work. I've had Bob check and recheck the details, and he's good at details so I really trust it's fine, but I still feel anxious about it. And yet I know that if we were being shot at or worrying about getting enough calories to survive the winter details like paperwork and school acceptance would fade fast.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's time for me to get serious about this blog again and about staying in touch with my thoughts, feelings, friends and family. Unconventional to start three quarters through January, but when have I ever been conventional. So here's my commitment - thirty posts in thirty days whether I feel like it or not, and then we'll see.

I've felt a little nuts since we got home from our amazing trip. The house and especially our room are messy with boxes from Bob's classroom and apartment, but he is making progress sorting. I just don't do well with lots of clutter. Work has been tough, lots of people struggling with difficult news and tough decisions. There have also been more than usual health crisis among extended family and close friends. I have stressed out over KK's deadline for application to the Fine Arts Academy and she has been both very busy and a little sick, which has slowed the process, but she finished her essay last night and Bob is taking over the paper work details so I can breathe there. Some good highlights are:
i get to wake up in bed with Liam and read with him a couple days a week when Ruth teaches an early class. Today was the first time and his sweet softness and eager curiosity blissed me out.
I'm an obsessive, delighted new knitter.
Bob is thriving in retirement, exercising conscienciously and effectively (upped both speed and distance) and volunteering magnificently (more about that later)
We went to the San Antonio Zoo on Monday with both daughters and ALL grand kids and saw hippos swimming right by our faces behind glass, wonderful playful monkeys, and the closest most intimate view I've ever had of a grizzly bear. He was so close I could even hear his claws on the ground (What big claws you have, Mr. Grizzly).
I get to go out to lunch with my friend Bill in about one minute - always a delight!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Years Prayer

We've had wonderful visiting and everyone else got tired and went to bed early. I'm not surprised as late talking has kept us up through the nights and I'm hte only one who has slept in. My Dad, bless him, would be proud of us because we are following two of his traditions for luck. We got the Christmas decorations down today and will be eating black eyed peas tomorrow.

I had the treat of having a knitting lesson from Mary Lee tonight. Learning feels difficult but possible. I have barely started on a soft gray, VERY EASY winter hat for liam, who collects and adores hats. I want to try more things that are new to me this year, especially creative projects and skills.

On a more serious note, 2010 was a tough year for our family, lots of change and loss, which created anxiety and doubts in me. I can't know 2011 will be any easier, but I found myself crafting a prayer of resolve for the new year. No matter what happens, I can handle it better.

Prayer of Resolve - 2011

Help me choose
love, not ego.
Sharpen my mind
to question.
Strengthen my soul
to abide.
Guide my choices
toward balance.
Open my heart
to listen.
Open my eyes
to injustice.
Increase my wisdom
to discern.
Fortify my courage
to act.
Amplify my voice
to speak.
Quicken my spirit
to rejoice.
Soften my will.
to accept.
Help me choose
love not ego.

Victoria Hendricks
anuary 1, 2011