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Last week’s centerpiece–flowers and herbs from the garden.

It has been an okay time—this week or two.  Julia has settled into school.  A few hard days now and again, a few challenges with the iPad and social media.  Those challenges have been ongoing for more than a year and, even though I am so tired of them, I admit that they have calmed from gale force wind storms to the occasional drizzle.  School is mostly left to school.  I continue to be grateful that she is a high needs learner who is in the school building 5 days a week and that most of the school work is done either during the 90 minute class periods or support resource/support time.  At home, she continues to draw every day, she practices her cello, we do almost weekly baking that is now packed up in individual bags and sent to school.  Thank you’s to teachers and staff—right now, it feels like the only way to teach Julia gratitude.  Julia does chores or what I call Family Work—still needing reminders but usually only once or twice on any given day.  She is getting better about marking the allowance chart when she does qualifying activities and work.  All these things—bringing baked stuff into school, family work, daily cello and drawing—are what she can learn during this time.  She has academic classes in school but I don’t expect much from them.  Not that teachers and staff are not working their butts off—they are— but I don’t know how much biology or art history are going to go into Julia brain this year.  I do not see her as “available” for learning.

When Julia was in second grade, her teacher communicated that Julia was “not available” for learning.  She was quieter than she had been previously which was not quiet like a typical student but quiet for her.  She seemed closed off and the suggestion was that perhaps we should have her checked out for seizures.  We did, of course, and that was one thing we didn’t need to worry about.  But her lack of availability for learning in school continued to be of concern.  Now, when I look back on it, it was during the time we were waiting for David’s new heart.  There was a good deal of tough medical stuff going on that we tried to shield Julia from.  She took in enough and perhaps her lack of availability was her way of coping with the new trauma.

These days, I wonder about the current trauma, this ongoing, without any end date pandemic and the insane political time.  So, maybe she won’t learn any more biology this year and the art history, another class, she absorbed with me in Italy and Australia is all that she will ever remember.  One thing for certain, Julia is enjoying being with her teachers and peers in school.  The quarantine time wreaked havoc on her social skills and slowly, very slowly social skills may be coming back.  I’ve asked her speech therapist to work on social skills scripts about greetings and leave takings with her.  I am hoping that he can share the scripts and we can use them at home and with outside therapists and her cello teacher.  She needs the habit of hello and good bye.

And I am settling into this time as well.  I seem to almost have a full plate right now.  Choir is demanding.  We have a zoom practice once a week and another weekend morning or afternoon of outdoors practice.  Much of what we are singing is recycled from past years; however, because my tenure is only a year, much of it is new to me.  When we met at church for practice and services, I relied on standing next to strong singers to learn music but these days we either are standing quite far from one another when we are outside or making vocal tracks for our director to put together.  There is no way of faking a vocal track, so I am practicing often at home, sometimes much to Julia’s dismay.

My HILR classes are going well—the Brain (class) is challenging all the time and Political Humor is interesting and sometimes very amusing.  HILR also has affinity groups who discuss economics or climate change, play music together or put on plays.  I’ve expressed interest in the Shakespeare group—the only company “in the world” that does Shakespear with old people who learn all of their lines!  They are hoping to put up a Midsummer’s Night Dream next fall—a year from now.  Our zoom status give them the luxury of rehearsal time.  Last spring when I joined HILR I felt quite shy, but even during this my second semester, I’ve begun to recognize faces and people are, in general, welcoming and friendly.  Perhaps I am more comfortable because we each appear in a little zoom box and I do not have to figure out which lunch room table group looks like they will allow me to join. 

This weekend at church, the service is being organized by the lay ministers and the topic is resilience.  I was asked to speak on the topic and I’ve prepared 5 minutes worth.  Oh yes, it takes me 30 hours to write and edit and 5 minutes to say.  This feels like some sort of baptism into the community and I am somewhat anxious.  I want to please—I can’t help it.  I have not put myself so far out on a limb in this community.  I’ve joined small groups and I am teaching, but this is speaking my mind “in front of” everyone!  Is it easier because I’m doing it at home and in front of my computer screen?  Possibly. 

Days are shorter and I do not look forward to setting our clocks back in another week.  I haven’t taken down the entire vegetable bed because some plants are still producing and the marigolds and zinnias are astonishingly bright and cheery.  I cut some for the house often.  I will miss puttering in the little garden, but social life is picking up somewhat which takes time and can also be astonishingly bright and cheery.  I’ve had 3 social engagements, 4 if I include an outdoor meeting—masked and socially distant—with actual people in the last 10 days.  This, together with zoom calls to Madison friends and a political texting group of Indy friends, is an embarrassment of riches!  Part of the loneliness of the lockdown in the Spring was that I had so local few people to talk to before the lock down.  I am grateful that some of feelers I put out before the lockdown as well of church zoom socializing has come home to roost.  I am hoping that life does not feel so desolate during the next season of dark, cold days.  

These evenings, we eat our supper in front of the tv, usually watching the old Star Trek, the Next Generation—Julia was very keen to watch it with the “young” Picard, as she describes him.  Fridays, we are tuned into the new season of Great British Bakeoff.  It is quite touching that they figured out how to make an almost regular season of bakes during their own lockdown.  After supper and our tv watch, we both stay in the living room, Julia usually draws and I read or write.  When it gets cold, we will make fires in the hearth.  Quite the pretty picture of domestic bliss.

From many, many vines and leaves, we grew one pumpkin!