Last Sunday, I was asked to talk about resilience at church. This is what I said. 

I’d like to start with . . .  Jane Hirshfield’s poem, 


More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous
tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,
mitochondria, figs — all this resinous, unretractable earth.

I wanted to be a pillow, but if there is any lesson in the last 6 months, it is cultivating the tenacity of trees. 

Talking resilience in medias res, I had no idea where to begin and what to tell. 

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It turned out a somewhat instructional and unusual weekend.  

Sunday morning, just before church, Julia’s test came back negative.  The doc who tested her called on Monday morning to make sure all was well.  She did mention that I should keep an eye on the slightly enlarged tonsils.  I didn’t ask how, all I can think of is to have Julia gargle with warm salt water if and when she complains of a sore throat.  I also received an email letter stating she was covid negative with the warning that the test only proves that Julia was negative on Friday at the time of the test.  Do you think they give that same warning to republicans?  

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just so much this time

Day 12 of school.  Julia had challenges last week transitioning to going to school and the new school schedule, but this week has been pretty good.  There is not much homework because classes are 90 minutes each and she has some study support built into her day.  I’ve been arranging for one after school activity a day—she gets home after 4 so one is all she can do—and that too has gone well.  Julia is still on her iPad hiatus and so it is important to have planned activities; however, for the most part she is not whining for more time online.  After-school cello, theater class and therapy are all online as are all of her general ed courses.  She is tired at the end of her day.

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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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wedding week, take one

79489dec-b864-4533-a926-ba6c2fc29f3b[Big aside. I finished about half of this post and was editing the photo layout when I lost the entire post. Zap! Pooff!  Every bit of it gone.  And you know, when that happens I am sure that what I wrote before was probably the most brilliant, thought provoking, sweet post I’d ever written. So, in the spirit of reconstruction, I’m doing it all again! How did I start???]

We were 13 adults, including the bride and groom, parents, siblings and partners, and three friends including the officiant and her partner, and 5 kids, nieces and a nephew from 3 months to 9 years. We stayed in the big green victorian house with a relatively recent turret addition.  Cheshire and Justin took the top turret bedroom, Cheshire has always loved turrets! We had the house for a week. Often during our week, someone would take note of something that someone who would have been at a bigger wedding would have enjoyed.  You were missed. 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

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

feral days

Written on Monday for Wednesday’s Awakening Joy workshop:

We live in “the hard knuckle of the year.”  Those words from Crooker’s poem spelled themselves out in neon when I opened this file and I’ve carried them, close to my chest all week.  

Day 47 in this house, alone with increasing challenges, on another dreary, wet, cold day. Fully conscious of my privilege, I gingerly step round pits of self-pity and despair. I hold on tight, white knuckles on the safety bar of this roller coaster.  Disneyland’s Space Mountain, a dark roller coaster, feeling faster than fast and terrifying because no one sees what comes next.  In these Space Mountain days I search for gratitude.  I find an hour of sun on the otherwise gray day; a zoom call with creatives in captivity; still fresh greens for a salad and reading James’ words to get ready for this workshop.  That has to be enough. Dayenu. Continue reading

day 5

From yesterday: There is a puzzle on the dining room table and eggs in the kitchen ready to be made into pysanky.  Hoping to encourage Julia to do a drawing a day to post here. Trying to put some kind of schedule of our days together.  Loose to be sure. Motivation is lagging this morning and I haven’t made the call to nudge Julia or I into action. All I’ve done is answer a few emails and do the census online. Very, very curious about how we find our rhythm during this time. Considering all the time we have, we may just have time to live in these questions.

I made a big pot of beef stew yesterday and we have enough milk, eggs, cheese, rice and pasta to avoid markets for days.  The freezer is stocked with chicken breasts, soup, puttanesca sauce and frozen potatoes.  We are running out of bananas and spinach.  I usually don’t think about which fruit or veggie will go bad quickly, but avoiding stores . . . . What is a reasonable and responsible amount to time between shoppings? Continue reading