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Beginning of winder holidays 2017!

The wind has been howling for 27 hours sweeping away the last unseasonable warmth of the year.  The sun is brighter today than midsummer and shinning in unusual windows at unexpected angles.  The barometric pressure is . . . all over the place(?).  Snow by the end of the week.

I usually blame early winter decorations and Christmas music on Julia’s desires. This year I take some credit.  Daily news is an assault on the democratic principle I believe in. Not just democracy–greed and cruelty are on the rise, spearheaded by a Republican party that has been highjacked by the the worst of humanity. The lyrics from Cool, Cool Considerate Men from the musical 1776, repeat in my head over and over through the ever increasing disgusting trump news cycles:

Well, perhaps [there are not enough men of property in America to dictate policy]. But don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.
And that is why they will follow us!
To the right, ever to the right
Never to the left, forever to the right.

Light and sparkle and songs with jingling bells are my escape. Perhaps baking next week. Just how many of us wished for that interesting life this time around?

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Liberty, Armed with Scepter of Reason, Strikes Down Ignorance and Fanaticism (1793) ~Jean-Baptiste Chapuy (My favorite at the Harvard Art Museum and strikingly appropriate for my present mood.)

My days have been quiet for two weeks. Julia has been on a school class schedule that takes her out of self-contained classroom for all but three lunches a week.  She is working very hard at home.  Biology gets more conceptual all the time and she struggles to hold onto those elusive concepts.  I struggle to figure out the concepts. Together we read the relevant pages multiple times and find a wealth of online information to explain and re-explain what we don’t understand.  It is not that the book does a bad job. I like this text book but sometimes we need different and/or more words to relate to.

Julia loves her English class. She is working with three other girls on a research presentation related to the Holocaust. She cried one day in class as they read a particularly difficult chapter in Eli Wiesel’s Night, but she spends time each night reading over chapters for some better understanding of the writing. I have yet to ask her teacher how she is doing. I don’t know whether her reports about participation match his perceptions.

And math!  Again, I have not contacted the teacher or the student-teacher (Mr. Mike) who are responsible for Julia’s work.  She is working through 4th grade in Kahn Academy and appears to be moving full steam ahead—adding with regrouping (a big priority last semester of 8th grade and all summer), fractions, decimals, rounding up and down, and a bit of geometry. Doing Donalee worksheets, we work on division. I sense a definite cognitive leap, not that Julia can manipulate all of these concepts with aplomb but she is taking them in at a much higher level than before.

Perhaps most important is that Julia is not dead for half of her school day.  On her old schedule, she could tell me about her classes for half the day, but the time in Room 1112 seemed to be a blank.  She told me about worksheets and graphic novels and about being distracted but not about what she was learning. The new schedule is an incredible change.

I am grateful for two weeks of not advocating. I will need to get back to it whether for Julia or for others.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving—flying into Boston to spend a few, quick days with Cheshire, seeing her apartment for the first time, spending time in Cambridge at the Harvard museums with cousins on our one free day, celebrating the holiday with Justin’s parents in New Hampshire and eating our way through many good conversations. Too many new and novel activities to document the journey well—another way of saying that I did not take many relevant pictures.

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Cheshire, outside her new digs and carrying our small contribution to the New Hampshire feast.

Once again, like so much else, it was a coming home.  David and I first lived together in Cambridge and Somerville (where Cheshire now lives). Some of our first weekend escapes were further north.  I’ve always felt at home in New England and, although I remember very little specifically after all the passing years, the ambiance was recognizably comfortable.

 

Back at home, the fall cabinet project is almost finished.  Handyman Ed has trim and shelves to put on and in.  I’ve already relocated table linens from the kitchen and moved a few drawers around reveling in new space for the mundane accessories of cooking and baking.  At this moment I have one empty kitchen drawer which, I swear, will not become a junk drawer.

I’m gathering old wood frames for a winter remake of our art/study room and moved onto a new phase of my reading/writing project.  And finally, yesterday, I got back to the gym—the absence begun by Julia’s summer vacation and prolonged by the fall’s gardening and advocacy.  Gardening and advocacy use muscles that have little to do with the gym and the gym muscles are complaining today.

With all that has gone on the last few months, so many hurdles to jump and anxiety to endure, I have the impulse to write ‘I am back!’ But I am not at some ‘back,’ I am somewhere else and pretty grateful to be here.