Prayers! Maybe a few thoughts too but definitely prayers! Please. I don’t necessarily believe in a micromanaging god that will rescue me although I’ve always been partial to the BVM. A touch of divine intervention would not go unappreciated.
Backstory: Months ago when Julia’s transition program began, she was adamantly opposed to talking about future work, employment, volunteering, etc. This went on for what felt like a long time. Some of it was fear of new experiences and more transitioning and some of it was just plain digging in her heels. She digs deep.
The one employment that Julia was always willing to talk about was working at a Comicon—now rebranded as the FanExpo. This is something that she has mentioned in her IEP meetings for years now, and something the I dutifully tried to talk her out of as an unrealistic aspiration. I mean, Cons are 3 days long once a year in any given place. This is not a career!
A big bowl of tomatoes—so many that I can save a small bowl for the next two days (there are more ripening behind those I picked today) and throw the rest into a big pot to make a simple sauce that I will freeze for the winter. I have refrained from cooking inside during our heat wave—hot food never tastes good to me when it is hot—preferring to grill a bit of protein on my small electric grill (A nod of thanks to Cindy for gifting the grill to me when I left Madison.) and making huge salad with bought greens and herbs from the garden. Everything from the garden has more flavor and vegetables melt into one another so much more companionably than their supermarket cousins.
I let the tomatoes cook down for hours and what is left is the sweet essence of summer. I expect the pleasure long after I’ve pulled up the plants and cleaned the garden for winter.
We are quiet today with nothing planned. Some drawing, a load of wash, some editing for me and reading. Julia plays her music—Ukulele chords are just beginning to make an impression and she has a new cello piece. Then, Julia picks up her basketball and bounces it around the house until she becomes bored. She wants to go to the small park around the corner. She wants to go alone, but capitulates to my entreaty to go with her and sit far away. I am.
“The wind is in from Africa, last night I couldn’t sleep . . . my fingernails are filthy, I got beach tar on my feet . . .”
Once, the reedy soprano slid up and down her registers as quickly as her fingers slid around on the neck of her guitar.
She had long, straight hair, as fine as mine but very much blonder. It was flung over one shoulder with a deft flip of her head. Slight with a sweet, high voice concealing genius and gravitas. (Although now I wonder why genius does not routinely speak in a breathy soprano.) Hippy clothes or terribly cool apparel—cooler as she got older. Never quite settling down but moving in the company of splendid and beautiful musicians. Never quite molded by the commercial music scene but brilliant enough to wedge her way in, to command attention. Singing about quitting the crazy music scene and then going on to write and sing more and again.
Joni Mitchell sang at the Newport Folk Festival Sunday night as a surprise special guest of Brandi Carlile. It was a carefully orchestrated appearance, her first public performance since a stroke and brain aneurysm in 2015. A friend posted an early morning YouTube video on her Facebook feed. I clicked on the link and then got lost down a rabbit hole of videos catching Joni performing song after song—the highlights of her old masterpieces and the kind of standards that I loved to sing—and playing her guitar. Her voice—low and chesty, a voice that had come back from near death, an old voice so rich with meaning and inference and innuendo that it was like some rich, decadent dessert.
Julia and I ate breakfast on our back porch—something she loves to do that I usually drag my feet about. Too cold, too hot, too buggy and it is morning and we need to get on with our day. But today, we woke up on time—Julia responding to the google wake up on the small speaker, something we have been working on this entire school year, something she sabotaged last week, something we had a talk about at Community Connections (a serious conversation at her program can make more of an impression than a similar talk at home), her program, and something that she encouraged me to reset (although I’ve only reset one of the three speakers she disabled—damn my holding on by my fingertips device knowledge.) lat night.
So, she woke up, did what she needed to do (although she still needs some kind of list to make sure she remembers everything. And any kind of reminder is anathema to her) and there was time to eat on the back porch.
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.
Emergence. I’m reading Rev. Kimberlee Tomczak Carlson’s blog post on the topic. As well as her wise words, there is a quote from Ursula Goodenough, scientist and religious naturalist:
“[T]ales of natural emergence [are] far more magical than traditional miracles. Emergence is inherent in everything that is alive, allowing our yearning for supernatural miracles to be subsumed by our joy in the countless miracles that surround us.”
To both of them, I respond: I didn’t know that emergence could be such a thing. As attached as I am to the metaphor of chrysalis with all its possibilities of gooeyness and dissolving, I have given very little thought to emergence. Yes, I know there is, or hopefully will be, a butterfly at the end of metamorphosis but Carlson shines light on the miracle of emergence, the process of claiming change. She says:
[W]e forget how miraculous we are. The sheer improbability of our existence escapes us, and we need butterfly garden-shaped reminders. Thank goodness there are small miracles surrounding us.”
The comments of two friends — one, not quite knowing what she should wish for this venture, the other, asking if I had mentioned anything about this project before it began or had I just dumped everyone into the middle of deep end. Both very good questions that have me thinking . . . . working the questions out for myself.
This is an odd project for a person like Julia to be a part of, and as I have described the first few days, especially the first day, Julia was not all that enthusiastic about acting in front of the camera and crew. Julia has participated in a theater workshop for young people with disabilities, on zoom since last spring, and sometimes she is not enthusiastic about that either. And yet, once she lets her no-no-no guard down a bit, she is able to follow directions, give her lines authentically and improvise with other actors quite naturally. Film is actually easier for her than the theater workshop because it is happening in little pieces with plenty of direction in between.
Pause. Perceive time. Defined by ticking timers with bells at the end, clocks and calendars is one time. Linear, predictable and plodding. But time. My time. Our time. Is different. It rushes ahead, it slows to as thick slime over cobbles, it slides sideways, quickly, irreverently, without regard for wishes, dreams or clocks. Over the long covid spring, summer, fall, winter and early spring, time lurched and sputtered. Time lost themselves is a foggy reality of days that lost their names. There was too much, not enough of it. It was not manageable no matter the breath and depth of my schedules and calendars. There was no corralling it for me. I did not write my Lear. I did not read Proust. I read and digested a few poems. Very few, very short. I was anxious and scared. I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and grabbed onto a lot of outstretched hands. I wrote some. I dug two gardens. I pushed Julia’s interests and her future doings along bit by bit. Like Sisyphus. Didn’t he write emails and phone calls to agencies and people? A modern Zeus would have surely assigned him to tackle DDS, SS and DIB. Chasing genius ideas to the dead ends of realization—there should be a word for the feeling of frustration and failure when lots of energy has gone into a promising lead that is chased to an unsatisfying end.
The quality of time was a small ball of clay that could be removed from the greater river of time in which we all swim. We gathered via zoom with others but there was a sense of privacy—not cherished and beloved privacy but something like a hidden shame, even though there was no shame—we were visible in our small, regular zoom boxes with backgrounds of books that grew to be familiar and to a much lesser degree to the peopled world from noses up.
Every day for a year, I have checked the new reported cases chart in the NYTimes. I wanted to will a change, make the numbers come down when so many times, for so many months, the counts only went up. Yesterday, the shape of the chart resembled the Little Prince’s a boa constrictor who has swallowed an elephant. And I almost smiled. One corner of the horror melted away. Truthfully, the chart doesn’t really look like Santoine de Saint Exupery’s drawing but . . . it was a playful imagining that I’ve have far too few of during the year.
Can I sigh with relief now?
I do want to sigh with relief. But South America, Mongolia, India and France still struggle. We are in this together. No, real sighing until we are all safe, until we are all vaccinated and I can feel the mist in front of Iguazu Falls and the silence in the Amarbayasgalant Monastery, stand at the tip of the reflective pool of the Taj Mahal and watch the repairs being done on Notre Dame. Then, a big sigh, many sighs will be in order.
Even here, coming back to what was normal, what will be normal is a slow slide, no giant leaps.
The three-day Memorial Day weekend was cold and wet. Heat clicked back on and outdoor plans were quashed—Julia refuses to enjoy the rain. We went to a first movie, played indoor miniature golf and shopped for graduation shoes. We had a weekend guest. I noticed how often we wore our masks making our way in the world. And although, I felt incredibly daring going to a movie, ordering and eating popcorn without a mask (taking the mask off only once we sat down), there were only about a dozen movie goers in a big theater and social distancing was not a problem. I did not need to test any daring tendencies after the decision was made.
Third day at the Cape. Falmouth, MA. First day on the beach.
The plan for this four-day vacationette at the Cape was to park the car at the inn, bike everywhere and spend at least part of each day on the beach, Julia digging and making castles, me, reading and writing. As it turned out, we arrived on Tuesday in time for supper, walked up to the main street, checked out the bike rental store which was closed and found out the they are only doing multi-day renting. No problem, I though. We’d pick bikes up on Wednesday morning and keep them until Saturday. We had a very nice Mexican meal, sitting outside, reading the menu on my phone. I had the margarita that I sorely needed and we walked home.