helicopter gardening

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That’s me—a helicopter gardener.  My first year since 1993 without a real garden of my own and I have all the time in the world to plan, plant, weed, mulch and water.  Well, not all the time but much more than I’ve had previously. So with time and a little plot, much like an over protective parent, I am out watering and a bit of weeding most days. The weeds are small and mighty—how I wish I had brought my small curved fork on a stick.  Moving, I let go of almost all of my gardening tools.  I use the rake my landlords have to weed and then put in some hands-and-knees time.  I contemplate straw mulch. I’ve spotted the morning glory seedlings along the fence line but I don’t know what sunflower seedlings look like.  I weed around the morning glory and try to remember where I planted sunflowers.   Continue reading →

Most of the vegetable plants are doing well without fuss.  I planted too early—yes, indeed, I did—and there have been many slow starts.  Some of the basil and the rainbow chard show cold burn but even those are beginning to perk up.  I worried the sudden onset of very hot weather yesterday and then laughed at myself.  Too hot, too cold—most of the plants will do fine.  They always have.

I am, many times, in the virtual company of people who are doing well or at least passing this time pretty contentedly.  I am of course grateful for our comforts and securities, and also grateful for the community connections that zoom allows me to nurture but I grow less and less well. I am lonely and without purpose. I am marking time at best and many days slipping backwards.  I see Julia’s world getting smaller with much frustration on her part. I work to expand her world where I can but it is never enough. I see my own world not expanding.  I understand why but that does help.  I wish for a project to get lost in, I wish to feel useful. Neither wish feels attainable this week.

School is finishing up this week and summer is still a mystery.  Summer school, which sounded wonderful a few months ago, remains uncertain.  We may hear from the governor next week or the next. Julia wants very badly to go to the Boston Comic Con at the beginning of August.  I can’t believe that it will happen but optimistically the website is still selling tickets.  I tell Julia that I doubt it will happen and of course, then I am the bad guy. A writer friend sent an idea from JK Rowling who is releasing a new serial story online and opening up the illustrating of it to young artists.  Julia is too old to qualify for the illustration competition but it may still be a good summer project and I am not above writing to JK and asking that the competition include artists with disabilities. 

Her final math project is to create a recipe for a favorite food.  Julia wanted to make a cake.  We found very easy cake and chocolate frosting recipes.  She did the preliminary work sheet for her class, writing down the ingredients, what tools she would need and the recipe.  The recipes that have come home from her math teacher have all been illustrated for non-readers.  I am hoping that Julia will work on illustrations in the next two weeks. 

Days are long; weeks fly by; months disappear. A sense of purpose may be far too much to expect during this time but I have not found a substitute.  I remain curious.

end of week 9

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Morning before 8.  I’ve gotten up, dressed, set up breakfast, taken out garbage cans, said hello to the guy across the street who is returning from food shopping—Ah, the wonder of senior hours.  I wish I had opened a window last night to wake up to the birds.  There is a lot of bird song this morning; the street, this tiny enclave, is quiet.  Julia is still asleep—classes begin at 10, so no need to rush her up.  I have my fresh, hot coffee and I put myself on the front porch to tap on this machine of see what comes to life.

It has been another challenging week although the challenges have been different.  Julia did most of her school work, with even a bit of help from me; however, we’ve had trouble getting her linked into the zoom calls.  I’ve asked the school IT for help—re-boot and reinstall—and then no way to connect.  I was enormously frustrated yesterday.  No way to get in, no way to get immediate help for class after class.  Reboot and reinstall.  I am almost sure it is my fault.  I am probably doing some part of the set up wrong which makes me feel quite inadequate especially when I manage to sit Julia in front of her chrome book for class after class and she is utterly frustrated when it fails to connect. I wonder why I am not willing to just give her a pass, give us both a pass, duck out of school and go for a walk. Continue reading

on the porch

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2CB2E505-4EAA-4A33-8555-1820F61563E3Time to sit in the porch.  Two porches here—front porch with chairs and back with table and chairs.  Last summer, when we moved in, I was shy about using both spaces.  Upstairs (landlords and neighbors) were home and using the back porch and the front porch felt public.  After a winter and a quarantine, I am ready to occupy outside, share it with anyone.  However, upstairs is at the summer house since the beginning of March and not planning on coming back until the end of quarantine.  Muta has been at home in these spaces for months.  Now I join him. 

Whenever the weather has permitted, and there have been many chilly, rainy days, I or we’ve been in the side garden possibility weeding and preparing. The soil is not rich by any means.  Lots of stones and pebbles.  Digging it feels just a bit removed from a pebble driveway that was broken up.  The best part of it, the back 10 feet or so, grew tomatoes last year.  I made a garden plan—so much for just sticking a few plants in the ground in a nonchalant way—and we went shopping yesterday.  It was the first time Julia was at a store since quarantine.  We both wore masks and gloves. Continue reading

feral days

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Written on Monday for Wednesday’s Awakening Joy workshop:

We live in “the hard knuckle of the year.”  Those words from Crooker’s poem spelled themselves out in neon when I opened this file and I’ve carried them, close to my chest all week.  

Day 47 in this house, alone with increasing challenges, on another dreary, wet, cold day. Fully conscious of my privilege, I gingerly step round pits of self-pity and despair. I hold on tight, white knuckles on the safety bar of this roller coaster.  Disneyland’s Space Mountain, a dark roller coaster, feeling faster than fast and terrifying because no one sees what comes next.  In these Space Mountain days I search for gratitude.  I find an hour of sun on the otherwise gray day; a zoom call with creatives in captivity; still fresh greens for a salad and reading James’ words to get ready for this workshop.  That has to be enough. Dayenu. Continue reading

independence day

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How did it get to be the end of April?

Setting: rain and 40 degrees.  The house is dark.  This is a day for the potato leek soup that is in the fridge and a book and a cozy chair and throw over legs.  Maybe it is not a day for momentous accomplishments or even folding the wash.  

Time: Monday morning.  That time when online school work comes streaming in and students are supposed to get organized for the week.  In this house, it is the time to wrangle Julia to help me organize her work. This morning, Julia has a check in with her case manager and a speech group.

Back story: Last week, I advocated for support from school to get school work done.  Two weeks ago I advocated for her speech services to resume.  The weekly plan came back this morning with no more help than last week.  There is a speech group meeting this morning.

Character: Increasingly, Julia lives and talks in a fantasy of teen sex and anime violence.  Lots of blood and boys obsessed with her.  She talks to herself.  More and more often.  She resents being pulled into the reality of our lives (which, at least to me, is not so bad at all).

Plot: Julia is declaring independence today.  She doesn’t want me to have anything to do with her schoolwork.   Continue reading

surviving

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My April plan was to remain curious, survive, grow compassion and nap.  Today, I feel ok about those goals.  I’ve been meeting some of them.  Monday was a different story. Julia was difficult and I saw no end to her behavior or this time of quarantine, no break away from her, no respite to replenish myself.  I wanted a few hours, the length of a school day. We can, at times, get out of each other’s line of sight, but unless we are whispering, we cannot avoid each other’s sound waves.  Ironically, I am picking up something from Julia’s physics class studying waves. 

Tuesday was better and Wednesday started well.  I am using every ounce of organizational skill and discipline I have to keep us on track. School is a moving target with classes, office hours and services changing at least every week if not a number of time during the week. I fill in calendars, mine and hers, and then change them often.  As school changes, time with counselors and therapists need to be rescheduled.  There are daily lists of educational work and home tasks to be accomplished and I make sure Julia is taking appropriate breaks.  I am teaching a weekly class and attending a weekly HILR class on musicals.  Sometimes it feel as if all the zoom meetings are little wooden balls that are shaken up in a box.  Balls get scattered on the floor, zoom meetings missed.  Sometimes the balls are damned slippery. Continue reading

new year baby

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Happy Birthday to my baby girl who was bald for a long time, a squirmy worm who preferred to snuggly to the stroller, the baby who didn’t sleep that first year and had a smile and a laugh to melt her groggy parents’ hearts.

This year has been full of so much joy and so much ambiguity.  Through everything you are still a wonder.  All grace and ease. Your new year holds new challenges and I am so happy to be close enough to have a front row seat.  With face masks and social distancing, of course.

You are the apple that makes the tree look pretty darn good.  Happy, happy new year!

why is this night . . .

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3C739B05-B6D1-4C82-977A-9096DF6DA02FI have a few moments after a busy morning.

Julia took a long bath and then settled into working on our virus-designated puzzle.  No real work has been done on it since our house guest of a few weeks ago left.  I’ve fiddled some nights but I am pretty dismal at putting pieces together.  After bathing, I ask Julia what she was doing and she said the puzzle.  I let her be. About an hour later, the outside pieces of the puzzle finally all fit together and a significant swath of the dragon fire was done.

I spent the morning getting ready for tonight’s Seder.  We are zooming with Cheshire and Justin at their home and a few young friends, each in their respective homes.  Cheshire sent directions and this year’s Haggadah.  We have a tradition of writing or putting together our own Haggadah each year following what David did for years.  This year version is more serious, perhaps a three Kleenex affair, and reflective of our circumstances. I approve.  It is sad to have moved so far to be together on celebrations like this and still be apart.  It is sad to have hoped for a big gathering and to have to make do with two of us sitting in front of my laptop.  Still, we gather to be together and nurture joy.  Continue reading

melting days

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D053ACA6-0A6B-425E-956C-05FFE430E363I keep notes and draft of this online journal in monthly files.  At the top of the file, I have   monthly plans, goals or aspirations.  Sometimes “write more” or “daily sit” or “gym 3x week.” April’s “plans” say: remain curious, survive, grow compassion, nap.

Somewhat shameful admissions (Although I am hardly filled with shame for any of these) and other things: 

-Some kind of candy is a part of every shopping list.  This week, a bag of M&M’s. I don’t think I ever, in my own house, bought biweekly candy. I am eating some now. Continue reading

lessons

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A friend commented yesterday that this time is like a wild roller coaster ride.

Agreed.

Obsessively, I watch the John Hopkins virus resource center through out the day. Today, the worldwide total confirmed cases will reach one million with 50,000 dead. I stare at the numbers.

I have written for a post every day. I draft and leave it for awhile as is my usual process. By the time I get back to the draft a few hours later, even a few minutes later, I am in a completely different head space. Mind and soul seem to have climbed another mountain or fallen down another well. And it does not seem possible to edit to reflect where I’ve been or where I’ve gotten to. Continue reading