a walk, a house and a challenge

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It is spring, and then it’s not, and then it is, and we get to open the windows for one day.  

Last Saturday was that day.  I almost wished I could have spent it in my little garden plot. —Yes, indeed, I can once again plant tomatoes and basil, a pumpkin, some chard and salad greens.  I did nothing to enhance the soil last year but as this is my second year, I am thinking.  But last Saturday was for walking and walk we did in The Gardens at Elm Bank in Wellesley.

Elm Bank was a private residence built in the 17th century. At the turn of the 20th Century, the owner engaged architects to build a neo-Georgian manor house and hired the Olmsted Brothers to design and improve the gardens. After various owners and various uses, the site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 and it is now owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In April of 1996, after a public process that included thoughtful consideration of all aspects of the sited leased Massachusetts Horticultural Society. The old manor house is in need of deep restoration but the garden beds are laid out and ready to be worked on for spring.  We enjoyed the bulb flowers and the flowering trees, and I enjoyed just being in a working garden on the verge of a season. 

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This I believe

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On Sunday, March 14th, I delivered my This I believe to the congregation of FUUSN (First Unitarian Universalist Society in Newton). Had it been ordinary times, I would have done it standing the the pulpit looking over the congregation. I don’t know whether that would have have been more or less intimidating. As it was, I was safe in my little zoom box sitting in my study seemingly talking to myself. If you’ve read anything on this blog before, you will recognize ideas and passages. I am grateful that Erin asked me to do this and grateful that I was daring enough to say, ‘yes.’

Good morning.

I hesitated when Erin [Erin Splaine is FUUSN’s minister] asked me to speak today.  After all, I still count my FUUSN membership in months, and I’ve gotten to know so many of you, not in person, but in these little zoom boxes. That could make me just a bit shy about sharing my heart today. And then, I write all the time about what I do and think, but I don’t think I have many conclusions. “This I believe” sounds, at least to me, like the speaker has come to a few conclusions.  Of course, we ask our COA teens to take up this task and they always do it brilliantly. But it seems to me that the older I get the fewer conclusions I have.

There is a line from my husband, David’s last play, the play that was performed a few months after his death. The line goes like this:

Just suppose you are now doing and have been doing for quite awhile exactly what it is you are supposed to be doing.

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almost spring

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“March went out like a lion
Awakin’ up the water in the bay . . . “
~Carousel, Rodgers and Hammerstein, “June is Busting Out All Over”

Funny, I remember this line and sing it in my head as “March came in like a lion” every year this time of year.  So, according to my lyrics, March came in as described.  We have had warm hatless days and the snow is disappearing—we are not in Wisconsin anymore! When there is sunshine, the sky is a shade deeper than pale blue and we are searching for the first signs of spring breaking through the earth. I have to go on neighborhood walks to find those signs of spring instead of my own garden. Still missing my own little plot.  I need to ask my landlords if I can use their side garden for vegetables and a few annuals again.  I have another month or so to ask.

Signs of spring — tulips and eggs and pasanky dye

The lay of the land, so to speak, has been more interesting in the last few weeks than in many months, although there have been bumps.

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ending the plague

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Today, I am infused with the first bit of hope that I have felt since March 10, 2020.  That was 3 days before school was shut down and a handful of days before everything in Newton was closed down.  That Tuesday before the schools shut down, I felt the snowball pick speed down the hill.  It didn’t take any great precognition to read the Times and hear what was happening in Italy and know what was going to happen here.  I felt chilled to the bone and, imagination running wild, I thought I knew how bad it was going to be. And in many ways, my imagination didn’t do 2020 justice.  I didn’t imagine how long and how wide the pandemic was going to be.  In the past, I’ve imagined myself catastrophizing when bad things happened.  About Covid 19, I was an optimistic minimalist. 

Anyway, yesterday I got an email from our healthcare provider yesterday right after I dropped Julia off.  I was told to log onto their website and there I was told to call the Covid hotline if I wanted to schedule a vaccine.  I did not hesitate to call although I doubted that I was eligible for the vaccine yet.  The state is still working on 75+ and there is a group of essential workers who also stood before me in line.  

I called and the nurse told me they were vaccinating anyone over 65 and would I like to schedule.  I asked when; she said tomorrow.  I mumbled an “excuse me, tomorrow?”  What I meant to say was, “tomorrow, tomorrow?”  Or something equally as foolish.  

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snow, travel & home

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A jumble of thoughts, events and musings today.

Snow day for Julia. During the last big snow, there has been only one serious snow before this one, Newton decided not to call a snow day but to merely go all remote for classes that day.  I think that most students were zooming in from home anyway, so it was only the high needs students (of which Julia is one) and some very young students who would have their school day changed.  However!  However, there was an uproar from all corners of town! How could NPS steal precious snow day activities from children already deprived of so much of their normal? The children should have been building snow people and sledding down hills, not stuck in front of computers all day.  I don’t know what the internal (or external) politics were, but the next day a traditional and completely unnecessary snow day was declared.

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after the insurrection

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Finding a voice after the insurrection—so many write about our national interests so much better than I could and yet I have not read what has been on my mind.  And I am still angry. It is more than dismaying that this self-proclaimed hero of the republic has broken the 210 year old tradition of peaceful transition, that he has lied so often and so outrageously and that he is also the first president since 1869 to refuse to attend the inauguration of the person he lost to. 

For awhile now, I have been wondering what the political rhetoric was like in the years leading up the the Civil War.  What were people, north and south, talking about? What was the tone of discourse? When did violence enter the minds and hearts of Americans? How did the argument of slavery and states rights—the causes of the War that I remember from high school history class—erupt into violence?  I did not understand those causes fully until recently—more the shame on me.  A more succinct cause would have been the power of the national government to prohibit slavery in the territories that had not yet become states and Lincoln’s platform pledging to keep slavery out of the territories.  Added to that was the inept leadership of James Buchanan, customarily consider the worst president, in the years leading up to the Civil War. (Buchanan might be moving up a notch or two.)

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scratch art assignment

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This was the assignment that Julia “could not do.” It is not an incredible piece of work but we had to have a conversation about how long it took to go from Thursday’s bad mood to Friday’s fetching materials to applying paint and ink to today’s making the actual piece. I wish she had a teacher who would really critique and offer some direction to her. And then, have her use the medium on some of her favorite anime characters.

Finished Assignment!

and then she was 20

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Some days are a writing prompt waiting for me.  Notions and ideas come from everywhere inside and out and I get lost in the riches of too much. Other days, I get nothing. And then there are days, when a host of mundane tasks call out to be done immediately, and I am sure I should sit and tap on the keyboard.  When the chore is getting Julia to school or a scheduled zoom for either of us, I give in, do it, but then there are days like today.

Showered, breakfasted, clothes from last night’s late wash in the dryer.  Kitchen should get cleaned up to bake Julia’s birthday cake, a run to get the saki to accompany the take out ramen she wants for dinner, a vacuum of the living room that smells like smoke because the wind came down the chimney last night and the supervising that will get Julia’s art homework started.  None of it taking too long but I know those kinds of tasks——They eat up your my soul.  They take longer than I suppose and tiny add-on tasks pop up along the way. I’ll steam along until either it is time to pick up the supper take out or I need a nap.

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what i can say today

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I am sad and angry.  Trying to find thoughts to share but it is all too raw. 

I do have three things to share that are lovely things that should not be hidden away because of all that makes me sad and angry.

First, is Julia’s senior pictures.  The sitting for these pictures, like everything else that Julia does, was not typical.  One of the two photographers who was working that day was immediately sensitive and took extra time and care, trying to make Julia comfortable and trying to capture some of the joy that is Julia.  From the proofs, I picked four.  One will go in the yearbook.

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