Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rokenbok in the kitchen, an unexpected thank you gift of a vase of beautiful white lilies and purple stock on the dresser, emails from friends make it easier to handle the serious illness of yet another friend. Tough summer healthwise for so many. A former client brought the flowers, utterly unexpectedly, after a couple of years. They are beautiful and also really help me know that my work makes a difference.

On a light note, when Bob and I were at the Harry Ransom Center we saw an original Picasso dong dish, really. He was having lunch with a friend and held out is bowl for the daushaund, Lump, to lick when he was done. He asked the owner if Lump had ever had a dish of his own and the owner admitted he had not. The artist remidied that by whipping out some black paint and quickly painting a portrait of the long doggie on the dish and writing "Por Lump" above it. Odd things turn up in museums.

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's been a great couple of days with the kids. We had a house full of grandchildren last night, all but Andrea. It was a sweet evening watching Liam enjoy his big cousins, who were just coming off a week visit with their daddy. At one point all the kids and Chris were absorbed in a Mario Cart video game on the Wii, all equally happy. It makes me happy to see the connection between Liam and his big cousins, Andrea too. As the house quieted down for sleep, I had an especially sweet conversation with Zachary, nothing special except for the feel of it. I'm especially touched when the boys want to talk with me. I learned that Zachary would like to work as a lifeguard when he is older. He still loves baths as much as I do. I remember he has been a water lover from the time he was quite small.

Today was just one of those special family days that makes my basket of blessings overflow. We drove the big kids back to San Antonio and just hung out with Joanna's family all day. We talked and talked and talked, went out to a Mexican restaurant that was perfect, whole grain low fat for Bob, vegetarian for Jo, very moderate prices, everything yummy, and a huge indoor playscape for the kids (great when it was 104 outside!). Its even open 24 hours, though we didn't take advantage of that aspect. But better than the restaurant was the relaxed time to just hang out and visit for hours with Joanna and Tracy. We talked about so many topics from education to sports to Danny's shirt size and growth spurt. The boys entertained Andrea, except when she entertained us with two fisted banana eating and sweet cuddles. It was just a very sweet day.

And the fun continues at home. There is a children's building system called Rockenbok that Ruth and Chris and Liam love, having received some as present when Liam turned two. Today Ruth found a whole world of Rockenbok at a great price on Craig's List, and as I write she and Chris and Liam are sitting up late on the dining room floor putting it together.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

This seems to be theatre weekend. Bob and I went to the Harry Ransom center, a local museum, this afternoon and explored an exhibit about Tennessee Williams and his work. It was inspiring to be around so much information about his writing process, letters that showed how hard he worked. He always seemed like a magical genius to me. I still remember the first time I read the script for The Glass Managerie, especially the stage directions for it as a memory play. It was one of those pieces of art that just took me beyond normal thought to a magic place. I think back then he just produced work of that quality naturally, and to some extent he did, but he also worked very hard and steadily at it, sriting something, play, poetry, short story for three or four hours most every day. As one who writes, I find that encouraging. To write something remarkable, I must first WRITE.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bob and I just got home forom seeing an intense and excellent play, The Book of Grace. It really brings home the potential for people to hurt and heal each other in families and in the larger world too. I thought about the terrorism in Norway many times during the play. It is worth seeing, though tense. There's a line in the play "You can spread the love or spread the shit. It's a choice." That really is wha tthe play is abouot and is a central theme in my life. In the play we really get to see how much damage it does when someone chooses to "spread the shit". I cried out and hid my head in Bob's chest at the climax of the play, took several minutes to be able to open my eyes and look at the action again. It was beautifully directed by the author, Suzan-Lori Parks. I want to see or at least read everything else she's written including the Pullitzer Prize winning Top Dog. The play is about walls, boundaries, barriers, their helpful and hurtful functions and focuses in part on the border fence between Texas and Mexico. Bob and I saw the fence last week when we were in South Texas - an ominous presence.

Friday, July 22, 2011

One good thing about hot Texas summers is the blue time of night - the deep indigo time right after sunset before full dark. I haven't seen it any time but summer or anywhere but Texas and find it breathtakingly beautiful. Bob and I got a full dose of it's splendor tonight when we came out of HEB after getting cat food. I've seen it hundreds of times, and it still takes by breath away each time.

Today there has been horrible violence in Norway, more than ninety killed by one man with a gun and a bomb. Apparently the motive is political, but not one that has been revealed yet or that I understand. I feel a need to learn more and also just horror at what we humans can and do do to each other on a regular basis.

On the other side of human behavior, liam invited me into his bed cave for stories in utter trust and sweetness. my friend Peggy sent me a gift of a friendship shawl that is the most beautiful gossame, sparkly, ruffled thing I've ever touched - knitted way beyond my skill level and with such kindness. I just keep looking at it as it is draped at the foot of my bed as I write.

I wish for more gossamer in the world and less bloodshed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I received gift today that really touched me, two hanks of hand dyed rose pink alpaca, merino, silk, donegal yarn from Chile. It's so beautiful I'm almost afraid to knit it, but I will and I'll keep the result too.
It's funny about me and pink, especially soft, soft, multishaded rosy pink. It was my favorite color when I was a little girl and I'd say it isn't now. Except it touches me in a way other colors usually don't. When I catch myself spontaneously picking something up and holding it to my cheek, it's often pink. When I can't resist sticking my nose in a flower, it's likely the pink one. I don't think at this point I look like someone who prefers pink - maybe green or violet. I'm glad my friend saw the pink loving little girl in me. i'm happy tonight sitting here petting my pink yarn.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I am writing here tonight simply to write here and keep the habit up. I am unispired and have no great news. I guess I'm mildly grumpy again, but not as bad as last week. I don't know if it's the heat of this summer in part, or just the time of my life, but I heard of two other deaths today, not people close to me, but one very close to a friend. I am also frustrated that the new landlords don't like the interior design in our waiting room and want to "update". I hate that word. We and our clients love the lobby the way it is and it is a secure space for a lot of people and I don't see why they can't won't leave it alone. And they didn't even have any cool yarn at Savers.WAh!!! I really do know that, except for the deaths, none of this is real trouble.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Great birthday trip with Bob - birds, birds, birds, list tomorrow when I can keep my eyes open. I am so aware that being married to this guy is beyond luck or even blessing. Falling asleep here,

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tired, even emotionally exhausted, but optimistic about a birding trip to Brownsville to get our feet in the Gulf again, see the unique birds, and celebrate Bob's birthday. It is even supposed to be an average of 15 degrees cooler there. My own fatigue makes me sensitive to everybody else;s possible struggles. Blessings to all who read here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I'm frustrated and grumpy and I don't like myself this way. Construction equipment is super noisy digging up the ground where the pretty little house was destroyed next to my office. And the new owners of our building want to do a face lift of some kind and everything will be a mess inside and out and I'm sick of change.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

It's 25 years today since Kerry died, husband of my youth, father of my babies. So much of that last hospitalization feels like yesterday, the awful moments and also the love and the peace that passeth understanding. Death is very much around me right now, and also life. Bob has been the husband of the second half of my life, the father of my girls into womanhood, grandfather of their children. I have had two rich chapters, blessed with so much love. Moon is at half tonight, which makes sense when I think about my adult life having two phases, not equal in length, but disticnt and both beautiful. And I'm also thinking about my friend Mary in fresh grief. Love and hurt, hurt and love, one foot in front of the other.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

My friend Diane died today. That trumps anything else I might blog. I wrote her a memorial poem in April, when she was clearly losing ground to Parkinson's disease. I changed it a little tonight and posting it here seems right since it's about my life and loss more than poetry.


Last year your goal
was a hole in one,
only person I know
who ever came close.

When I offered to help
with a heavy suitcase
you glared, I'm fine
and held on tight.

You pointed at the top
of steep hill behind cabin.
I would have been the first
one up there
. Tears welled.

You skied Olympic slopes,
sailed turbulent seas,
swam with giant turtles,
let love turn you around.

You danced in the rain,
sang down the moon,
painted in flowers,
fuschia, aqua, magenta.

You always knew
strength is vulnerability,
vulnerability, strength.
You showed both.

You were not ready
to lose body, voice, life.
I am not ready to
to forget the music of you laugh.

Your legacy is a naked heart.
I cleaned out the
hall closet and threw
away an armful of umbrellas.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Life feels a little uncanny. The temperatures rise to over 100 every afternoon. No rain. Summer is like that in Texas, but this year especially. I worry about tipping points. Have we pushed the earth too far?
I hope not. I hope we can learn to live more lightly, to reverse damage done. I know summer gets me down. It was 25 years ago that we were going through Kerry's dying, 15 years ago waiting for KK's birth. It is a time of being born and dying for me and mine, this high summer time. It makes me nervous, wary.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Thinking about July 4 tomorrow, patriotism, protest, how they do not contradict in times when one is troubled by the behavior of the government. Richard Kramer, the man whose memorial I attended yesterday had a great comment about this topic when he was a newly retired Lieutenant Colonel teaching political science and in charge of ROTC at the University of Texas during the protests against the war in Viet Nam. He instructed his students "Don't burn the flag, wash it." This is a man who lived by his philosophy, later speaking up in many scholarly settings against the war in Iraq.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Today Ruth and Chris and I attended the memorial service of a man of great personal and professional achievment. He had also suffered many losses, overcome difficulties in his ninetyone years, and been the center of a community in which he was truly loved. He published his last professional book only a year ago. I loved it that Ruth and Chris took Liam to the service and explained that it was to celebrate the life of John's grandfather who had died. At the end of the reception Ruth had Liam give John a big soft hug and tell him he was sorry that his grandfather had died. That moment was so sweet - the teaching of manners and empathy, the circle of birth and death, river of generations. One of the participants in the community eulogy called the deceased Air Force Colonel, professor, widower, grandfather, friend a mensch, and of course that is what we are hoping to raise Liam to be - a good man who lives for the whole world, not just for his own pleasures.

The other thing that struck me at the service was that I am half way in age between Ruth and the man who died. Of course I may not make ninty, or even sixty one. Who knows. But somehow knowing how much he accomplished in the last thirty years, and seeing many of his friends healthy and articulate in their seventies and eighties, gave me a kind of wake up call. I'm not old and I don't have to think about life winding down. It could stop at any moment, sure, but it could have stopped at any past moment. I'm not just tying up loose ends, like I have sometimes though lately. I'm here and may very well have time for significant new chapters. It still matters what I do, what I choose. I am so thankful to Richard and his friends for this lesson.

Friday, July 01, 2011

I feel the Sabbath peace tonight after an especially tiring work week and a lovely meal with family, then synagogue services. I also feel sad. The little house next to the office is gone, as if it had never been there. That really shakes me, makes everything seem so fragile. I think of houses as permanent, I guess, though i know they are not given bull dozers. The summer heat is oppressive, which also makes me feel vulnerable/ Tomorrow Ruth and Chris and I will go to the funeral of the grandfather of a young friend, a man who was a strong and positive influence in his grandson's life. My friend Diane remains very ill. I feel death in life more strongly than usual right now, and the need to give everyone I love an extra kiss if possible, at least an extra word of encouragement. Life is hard and life is good. We are all in this together, bound to each other by our mortality and our breath.