of the goo

The time rolls on; once again, days melt into one another.  Everything is effort. The news comes to us via radio, youtube and the nytimes.  I don’t think that Julia hears and comprehends much of it; however, she is quick to say that she doesn’t want to go to school and catch the virus.  I tell her that I will not send her if it is not safe and at the same time, I gather information on how to send her to school and what to do when she gets home.  I tell her we will listen to the teachers and the scientists, even though no one has definitive advice. Julia does not do well with gray.  I fall and fail with the continuing ambiguity our time.

The chrysalis stage of a butterfly is my favorite metaphor for transformation.  What a miracle that a caterpillar makes the container and turns itself into a gooey substance before transforming.  Where are we in that process right now? Who is in the process now? Can we have as much trust as a caterpillar? Continue reading

chasing & choosing

“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” ~Henri M. J. Nouwen

I don’t agree. At least, in part.  I remember a time when moments of joy were effortless—falling in love, singing into a mike with a tight spotlight, making it to 20 weeks pregnant, arguing Roe v Wade with Professor Dworkin, cooking a first meal in my first house.  As I write these moments, there are dozens more I could include.  Oh, I didn’t include Italy—Siena, Venicia, Torino, Frascati and my friend Sylia. There was a time when joy—near effortless joy— was liberally sprinkled through life. Those were times of purpose—some very grand and pretentious, some as simple as well baked biscotti. Continue reading

helicopter gardening

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.  

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. Continue reading

end of week 9

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

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

independence day

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

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

melting days

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

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

connection

25A554FE-6C0F-4773-B3AA-2B808E97FEDF
My orchid blooms! Gifted by Amy four years ago, carried from Madison last July.

Yesterday, Julia had two online class meeting and unfortunately we missed a third one. They were all set up the day before and if a student hadn’t checked where teachers usually post assignment, the student missed meetings.  These pre-class meet ups feel random but we in pre-schedule days.  It feels chaotic, hit or miss.  I want the schedule, the instruction book, some thing sure.  We are riding the waves like surfers and I happened to want to walk the well trod path.  Possibly paved.

At the beginning of the week, I cleared my google calendar. Julia glanced over at my computer and was appalled at what I was doing-wiping away school dismissal times, my HILR classes, her cello lessons, spring break travel plans, the school musical, etc. We needed a calming talk to ease her mind.  Then, I added new appointments, mostly on zoom, and there is no pattern. Not yet. Almost immediately there were conflicts—why does everyone, meaning 3 groups, want to schedule meetings at 1 p.m. on Thursdays? I need the calm talk right now.  We will miss appointments/classes/meetings.  And with gentle pushes forward and some long steady breaths, it will work out. Continue reading