21

This was not the post I intended to write this morning.  No, what follows is what I expected to write.  It is this morning’s latest catastrophe that I did not expect. Julia turned 21 this weekend and I guess I should have written and posted with pictures before this morning because . . . well, because stuff happens and in this house, it happens like a hurricane or a tsunami.

We had a long, quiet weekend—celebrating with a big shopping at H Mart, an Asian supermarket, where Julia picked out old favorite noodle packs, candies and cookies.  We found frozen pork buns and the best frozen dumplings we’ve ever had. She ventured into a jar of kimchi, found BTS merch and of course, we got some mochi.  It was a black sesame mochi ball that held the lit candle that was ceremoniously carried into Cheshire’s dining room after we had feasted on Korean take out.  We sang, Julia blew the candle out.  I wished that we could have some sort of a normal birthday celebration at some future time, at the same time grateful for the generous scraps of what we have.  

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auld lang syne

“For the sake of old times!”  As close as I can get to a translation that makes sense to me of the words “auld lang syne.”

“Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon” 

A slight variation of the Robert Berns words, but the words that sang out to me this morning.  Yes, I admit to wanting to not cast too many glances back.  It has been a hard year.  It has been a brutal almost two years, and all my heart wants to do is to turn and face the winds of the new, hoping and praying that the new will be much, much more pleasant than the old.  As a friend wrote as a wish to another friend, a wish for a more cooperative new year.

Indeed!

A cooperative 2022 would be divine!

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being human in times of chaos

Whew!  Yes, I’ve gotten this far.  This far into this year and this far into life.  But I’ve been wasting more than my usual share of days dithering.  I wonder if I am alone in this?  Courtney Martin, whose, newsletter I subscribe to, called this a “liminal pandemic moment.” 

“We’re opening back up. We’re not opening back up. We want to open back up. We sort of actually don’t. We forgot how to socialize with a wide variety of people or in larger groups, so it all feels heightened—like waking up from a nap and being violently thrust into a brightly lit room of smiling, chatty people.”

Well, I am not intending to burst into any rooms of chatting people in actuality or even figuratively.  Still, I feel the liminality of the moment. We are gathering tomorrow with our ‘pod’ from the last two years—Cheshire and Justin, his parents, Julia and I–which is quite comfortable. There remains, however, the rest of life–transitions, community, and what the future holds.

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9/11

20 years.  I remember so well going through the metal detector at the federal court build in Indianapolis.  The security guy telling me that the world trade center was hit by a plane and we assured each other it was a fluke.  A mistake.  Then, upstairs to my office and then into a judge’s chambers to watch the second plane hit and the buildings collapse on tv.

I remember trying to wrap my head around the unimaginable in the midst of distress, chaos, sorrow and worry.  But a tender memory from that time, in the days and weeks afterwards, midwest friends, neighbors, colleagues and acquaintances, remembered I was from there and asked how I was and how my family and friends were.  I had lived in Indiana since 1989, and it was never that easy being from New York.  People could be downright mean at times, talking about where I came from as if it was the pit of hell.  Not everyone but enough to make David and I shy about that ‘where are you from’ question.  During the days and weeks after 9/11, everyone became a New Yorker.  Suddenly, I was just like them because they were just like me.  I hadn’t expected that and I felt for almost the first time there, that I had community.

Saturday morning breakfast at a new to us Diner in Watertown.

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heat wave

Vegetable gardening.

A 3-day heat wave was predicted.  It might last longer.  It will not break sooner.  We missed the first heat wave here and lived it in Maryland where our nights were air conditioned.  Then, there were a few hot days about a month ago and our air conditioners were still in the basement.  I could not bring them up alone and I have not yet found a handy person like my Ed of Madison who knew my house better than I did.  Of course, this is not my house, except for the term of my lease, and my handy person tasks are few.

Cheshire and Justin brought one unit from by basement at the end of last week, just in time for yesterday.  And I did what I have done since I moved to Wisconsin and met the cold:  I closed up the house, windows closed, blinds and shades down, doors to rooms not used closed tight.  And left the air conditioner on through out the night.  This is so odd for me, I sleep with open windows, but the house is cool, even the bedrooms are tolerable.

Good, hardworking little machine.  Thank you.  And thank you for the grace of children who will do those tasks I am unable to. 

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traveling

Lily Pond at Longwood Gardens

We are home and . . . .

We left on Friday, early in the day.  There was the threat of rain but there was also Longwood Gardens, one of my favorite places in the entire world, a bit more than an hour north.  On the way home.  Almost.  It never rained but it was cloudy and clammy.  Julia complained, but I was not to be dissuaded from indulging in the garden.  We did some walking, less than I would have liked, more than Julia wanted.  Compromise!  Beds of color do not impress her, but the water fountain with musical accompaniment was pretty thrilling.  Best of all was when I found the plant that is her favorite.  I almost didn’t find it.  It was in the very last exhibit, behind the green house, in a corner of the water lily ponds.  Mimosa pudica, also called the sensitive plant.  The tiny ground hugging plant with leaves that fold at the slightest touch is of never ending fascination to Julia.  And she was thrilled we found it.

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a walk, a house and a challenge

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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snow, travel & home

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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quiet

This morning, we’ve spent the morning on our back porch.  Julia is editing pictures for her blog.  She has drawn most days but has not posted since the week before the wedding.  We counted and that was 40 days ago.  She lost interest in posting and I can’t blame her-it was supposed to be a place to put pictures for the short term.  After 100+ days and 100+ pictures, it is no longer short term.

This morning, we took pictures of her pictures and it will take most of the day for her to edit and post.  The blog began with pictures of what she/we did during our quarantine days but Julia got bored, it became a lot tougher to come up with ideas and I could not inspire her to continue down that path.  I also was, for a short time, busy with the wedding. And so, she has been drawing what she wanted to—mostly anime characters that she obsesses about.  Not being an artist or educator, I don’t know what to do next with this mountain of pictures. Perhaps an artist or educator could see some development or where to go or what to ask for next.  I don’t. This has long been my challenge.

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the wait

I’ve spent the day today waiting.  Busy outside, inside quite pensive, anticipating.  I packed clothes, washed one load for the last few things to pack, cleaned the kitchen and living room—the dining room is full of what is coming with us to New Hampshire—vacuumed the hall and my room.  I asked Julia to clean her room and she got lost down the hole of rearranging her bookcase.  Just like her cleaning and arrangement of the CD rack, this was be her task of the day.  She found a few books she had been “looking” for and the program of the Milwaukee Con that we went to last year, long before the virus put an end to the costumed gatherings.  Over the past year, Julia as been gifted with two costumes that she intended to wear to the Boston Con this August.  Maybe next August?

Periodically, I look at my lists and add another something to the to-go pile.  I have some food shopping to do tomorrow before we leave but we cannot check in until after 4, so there will be no rush.

Tomorrow we leave for the house on Lake Winnipesaukee for a week of gathering together with Justin’s family to celebrate the wedding of Cheshire and Justin.  Because quarantine has provided endless time, everything I need to prepare and pack is finished.  I think.  I hope. Continue reading