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The season is turning.  When we drive on the highways, the earliest of the trees are beginning to show color.  Orange and yellow.  And walking, we’ve found orange and brown leaves on the ground.  Such a joy!  Tinged with a bit of bittersweetness, but can the same be said about almost everything these days?  These continuing unprecedented days?

~ School began today.  We are so late this year!  Julia is one of the high needs students who has been invited to attend every day at school. High needs is a category of more than special ed students.  She will get some of her classes in person—those she takes with special ed teachers—and some on line—those where she is in general ed classes.  All classes are 90 minutes long, with the expectation that content will be taught and some, if not all, homework will be eliminated as it will be done in class.  Julia is anxious but she was so happy to be in the school building when she has her senior pictures taken that I think she will do fine.  The number of students in-school is very small.  I’ve heard 50 to 100 in a building that houses 2000 comfortably.  There should be sufficient room for them to spread out. I hope she can attend safely although there are plans if in-person needs to be shut down in a few months. Or sooner.

First Day of School 12th Grade

Unfortunately, we’ve been wearing the wrong kind of masks!  Both of us really like the triple layer with plastic vent but that mask is not approved for school use.  I need to quickly find a substitute that we like.  I let Julia know that once she is in school, someone may ask her to switch her mask with something the school will provide.  Julia seemed okay with this.  I, however, feel like my months of getting her used to the mask was a bit of a failure.  

School is from 9:15 to 3:55 and so, there was no early rising for us today.  And because of the limited number of students in school, there was no traffic.  Ordinarily, school traffic around Newton North is fierce and the 8 minute ride to school can take 20 or 25 minutes.  I figured it would be less today but we still arrived before any of the staff was outside the building to greet students.  Julia who was pretty dependent on being met at the beginning of the day last year, bounded out of the car, promising to go to the office of the sped staff who was her case manager during the summer.  

And so far, no word from her or her teachers.  I am cautiously optimistic.  

From emails that I am getting, there are lots of zoom challenges today.  Julia will do her general ed courses online like everyone else.  She is however, in school zooming.  And I have to say that I am pretty happy not dealing with those challenges today!

~The new car is good.  Very good, in fact.  The pick up, which I read was not optimal on the Prius, is absolutely fine for me which could be more about the old car than the new car.  Julia is loving the music interface.

We taken three long rides in the last 10 days—the first out to a farm to see sunflowers was just to take a longish ride, during the weekend, we met Cheshire and Justin in Salem for lunch and we stopped at King’s Beach in Lynn, and yesterday, we went back up to Portsmouth, NH, to pick up Julia’s new glasses in time for the beginning of school.

At the end of a drive, the car reports on the quality of driving.  Something out of 100.  The first few days, I was scoring in the 40’s, now, I’ve moved up to the 60’s.  I don’t know if all newer cars do this or if it is a hybrid thing.  I don’t quite understand how the scoring works.  When I understand more of how the car works, I’ll check it out.  Being who I am, I would like to get into the 80’s.  Or so.  At least!

~The garden needs some work but it continues to give us many tomatoes and rainbow chard and herbs.  The tomatillos have grown very bushy but the little green orbs are not ripening.  I am not sure what will happen with them.  Our pumpkins plant is a bust.  Lots and lots of crazy vines but few, maybe no pumpkins.  There are two possibilities but they may be too small to mature in time.  The flowers—zinnias,  marigolds and nasturtium are wonderful.  I will never again plant a vegetable garden without them!  I don’t know if I will be able to use the garden space next spring—my neighbors/landlords might live here next spring and want it back—but I am already making a few plans in my head as to how to improve tomato yield and will be researching why my pumpkin didn’t produce.  Also, why my sunflowers failed.

Late Summer Garden

~HILR (Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement) has resumed.  I’ve done reading for both of my classes and I have to admit that the reading for “The Brain” is pretty much over my head.  I wanted to be challenged but now I’m wondering if I bit off more than my lazy quarantine head can handle.  First class tomorrow and I’ll made a decision.  My other class is for half the semester and is about political humor.  The first class on Monday was fun and insightful.  One of our assignments if a humor journal, completely justifying deep dives into the late night pundits.  

Everything is online and admittedly zooming has been normalized.  I do miss physically going somewhere but online meetings are not as disappointing as they were in the spring.

~I’ll be teaching a new Spiritual Practices class at FUUSN starting the end of September.  It is a new course that is part of a program called Faith Forward so there is new prep work. The program comes with video links and power point presentations.  I have to admit that because it is more externally structured than any mindfulness course I’ve taught/facilitated, I felt some resistance rising.  Funny to feel that resistance because in the past I’ve wanted more guidance.  Got to get busy.  Good busy!

~With Julia in school for the first time since March, I have my days to myself.  I’ve been waiting for this time to get back to working on the novel and also exercising for myself.  I need to give priority to myself and my needs with Julia in school, although I am pretty sure, there will be backup work for her that will need to be done.  Both writing and exercising demand so much discipline from me and at this moment, I don’t feel I have the energy.  And yet, I can’t imagine just giving up on either of them.  I remind myself to be gentle with myself.  I need a bit of healing-not healing from wounds but from anxiety and stress—to find the energy to begin again.  Recherchez.  Again and again and again.

~I closed most of the windows last night and for the last few nights.  First time since it has gotten warm.  I changed out our blanket for down comforters.  I was eyeing sweaters this morning although I don’t need them yet.  Soon.  I usually adore the fall.  It is a time of new projects and absolutely messy colorful gardens, neighborhoods and walking places.  This year, I do not feel the Fall lift.  So many reasons from personal isolation and loneliness to school beginning so late and on such tentative footings to the necessary unrest in our streets to national politics.  Fall is about looking forward—grand plans, new schedules, seeds of another travel year to plant, but I am mired in fear of what may come—another year exclusively online, another year of Julia losing ground socially and academically, another four years of GOP fascism, many more years of systemic racism.

And then, I have to remember Julia bounding out of the car today and into a building that has changed from the unknown scary to the welcomed. If she can do that . . . .

King’s Beach in Lynn, MA