We love to use the shopping bags we’ve acquired from friends. This one is from cousin Stef in Sydney. We are thinking of all our Ausie cousins who are, for the moment, on lock down. Sending love to all of you!

Home and with not much to do for this weekend.  We expect a storm tomorrow and the governor advised all to stay home tomorrow.  I am still not used to hurricanes, their warnings and their fierce rains even though I grew up with them.  The first one I remember was Hurricane Donna in 1960.  I remember weather men breaking into my favorite tv shows  and my parents shushing us to listen.  And I remember picking up tree branches after it was all over. I remember tv news and pictures of places where homes and businesses were destroyed, and some cars floating down flooded streets.  I think it may have been when I realized that humans, particularly my parents, didn’t control everything.

Julia asked if she could take some time to draw this morning, and she is still at it 2 hours later.  This is the third day in a row that she has asked for the time. Cautiously, I wonder if going back to therapies that we’ve used before is giving her something.

Back a few months, I wondered out loud to our family therapist what kinds of therapies and interventions were appropriate, helpful and useful to Julia now.  Therapies and exercises always call for me to organize and facilitate.  When I wondered out loud, I felt tired and feeling like nothing that I had done for the past two years had done much good.   When I told her last week about things I was bringing back and things I was exploring, she reminded me that I had asked the question and evidently had come to an answer.  

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living into questions

Cheshire coxing for a senior boat at Head of the Charles.

Believe it or not, I have been journal writing a lot this month and yet I’ve been unwilling to bring anything to the point of posting and publishing.  

Just interesting.

I read a poem every morning curtesy of Joe Riley  and his email list called Panhala.  (I can’t find a working link for the site but a subscription request might be here: panhala-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.).  I took up this habit about 8 years ago because I never liked reading poetry and it seemed that all the work I was doing and the people that I was working with valued poetry and always had something inspirational to read to begin meetings.  At that time, I also remembered that I had promised myself to read poetry (and also Proust) in my old age, assuming as I did when I was very young and callow, that deep understanding would be mine by the time I reached oldladyhood. Somehow I came across Joe Riley’s work of sending out daily poems and I subscribed.  I deleted many without even a read when my email inbox got overwhelmingly full and I stopped in the middle of reading many times because I just didn’t get it; however, little by little, over the years, I have come to some understanding of poetry.  And I now envy poets, like painters, who can say so much, move so deeply with a minimum of words.  It is not my talent, as this long paragraph attests to, but my appreciation grows with every verse I read.   Continue reading

on sunday

Muta, the cat, wants to sit on my chest as I type.  He wants to lick my fingers and get closer.  He purrs very loudly.  I’ve put him down twice.  There is little time for reflection right now and I should not let this go.  Still, is it Muta who really knows what I need?

Yesterday, I drove to the burbs of Chicago to see Julia’s Optometrist and Cognitive Therapist.  Dr. Z’s staff did a batch of eye tests with something akin to computer games, replacing some of the more traditional looking testings. Using a computer allows for a record of the tracings of Julia’s eye movements as she reads or follows directions like looking reft to right as quickly as she was able. The results are startling. I wish I could compare it to my own eye movement tracings to Julia’s.  Of course, just seeing Julia’s results and having them explained are enlightening.   The testing provide some of the why’s of Julia’s challenges.   Continue reading


Star fish fossil at the Museo di Storia Naturale in Milan

It rained in the very early morning and now again at dusk.  The day was by turn, cool, sunny, cloudy, hot and muggy.  What of my mood can I blame on the weather?

Julia and I continue to work on our gardens.  We are weeding and cleaning the back beds.  I am making space for some of what must be moved.  I’ve not heard back from the inspector who told me he would call back in regards to an extension of time before imposing a fine to give me time to transplant.  I hesitate calling in case the answer is not what I want to hear.  In the meantime, my across the street neighbor received a complaint similar to mine.  Their terrace garden is considerably smaller and their plants, although over 24” are all perennials whose final height is only in place for a few weeks.  Someone on the neighborhood yahoo group has taken to calling he who is complaining the garden gestapo.  I am almost more angry about this second complaint.  No, not quite true.  I am angry over my complaint as well.  I am still muttering as I garden and doing a fair bit of blaming. Continue reading

silver linings & rainbows


We are sinking into home.  Beds.  Couch.  Kitchen sink.  Julia’s cello.  Machines.  My first batch of tomatoes from the Farmers’ Market being sauced as well as a small pot of tomatillo sauce.  To be ultimately frozen for winter dishes.  I have missed the wonderfully large bunches of basil at the market.  I have none growing.  Me thinks no pesto this year. Continue reading

all that no longer fits

Some of what is more than 24″ 

Yesterday was a day of issues and challenges.  Two to be precise.  Two challenges that I had no idea I was going to come home to.  Both require lots of energy and some decisionmaking. After 24 hours of fretting and feeling sorry for myself, for us, it was time for action.  Action, in some cases, is a number of phone calls, messages left and then patient waiting.  So a measure of frustration gets added to the mix, but I posted on Facebook and also on my neighborhood listserv about the appropriate issues and the response from neighbors and friends has been so supportive.  And I really needed that.  A hazard of living alone, no one to vent to or commiserate with.  Online friends are not the answer to all the hard situations of the world but it felt good to keep one eye on Facebook responses as I started cutting down my beloved garden.

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small steps

IMG_2166Julia put a new roll of toilet paper in the holder on Friday.  A small gesture but one of the “one small step . . .” kind of things.  I know that for any 13 year old to actually notice that some household chore needs to be done and to do it without being asked is pretty incredible.  For Julia, the noticing of the world around her in that way and to reach out to contribute to it is a “giant leap.”

Is the the vision therapy and probiotics at work?  Or is it just maturation?  Certainly, it can’t just be being 13.

Brunch yesterday with friends and talk about middle school and their coming sabbatical.  The middle school talk was interesting.  I got to vent which I seem to need to do with ever increasing frequency these days.  My friend talked of how much she likes the school that I decided not to send Julia to.  I cannot say that Julia would have been better served there.  The change of principal seems to work in that school’s favor but it was big and crowded and at least last year there was no possibility of asking for an art class each semester.  But my friend talked of the near magical teachers, welcoming community and her son absolutely beamed talked about HIS school.  Oy!

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to yourself . .

So, I signed myself up to blog everyday for the month of November and rather conveniently I found a very good excuse not to do it yesterday.  I did jot a few notes for yesterday including that I was feeling slightly embarrassed to share the enhanced writing life on a daily basis with Facebook.  If the feeling continues I could disengage the Facebook feed or I can grit my teeth and just admit to the world that I write a lot of crap much too often.

Part of the excuse for not writing yesterday is driving to Chicago and a full day which included a long eye doc visit and a trip to the american girl doll store.  The high point of the day was late and delicious Chinese dinner with good conversation.  After which, sleep was the only thing I was interested in. Continue reading


Julia got out of school at 10:45 and I was in a LEND workshop helping to facilitate for the day. One of our respite providers was able to stay with Julia until 2 and then dropped her off at Waisman. Julia hung out and on her iPad while I finished up my day.

It has been my habit to go home after a day like this and have a work night. Math, reading, cello, social studies and anything else that Julia needs to be working on. And a decent supper from scratch or the freezer. We do not take many days off.

And so, we took the rest of today off. We went to a 4:40 show of the Lego Movie and for the first time ever, I wished I was a 9 year old boy who was obsessed with Lego. The plot was nothing to speak of but it was fun and silly and had some really cool Lego effects — my favorite was the undulating Lego ocean. We had popcorn and stayed through the credits. When we got home, Julia dragged out her Legos and went to building — of course, what else? And I made some rice and scrambled eggs with rice. We watched another episode of Star Trek and Julia went to bed. I am looking for fun. Some undemanding, indulgent, un-useful fun.

It has been a long time since fun has been on the agenda. I don’t know if that is mainly because of the therapeutic life that we’ve led or grieving. Or some combination of the two. There is so much work to do but recently I remember weekend afternoon naps while Miazaki was on the tv, walks, just walks, toys all over the house and long conversations with a beer. I remember Julia laughing much more than she does now as a rule. And I can remember this without tears or depression or regret. I can hold the sadness and still wish I was a 9 year old boy. I realize that I’ve never had the discussion with anyone about balancing a therapeutic life with fun but perhaps I need to find someone to have that discussion with.

It is time for fun.


I ran jogged around most of the block yesterday morning — .75 of the block to be exact.  I need to get my body moving and nothing that I have done before is appealing right now.  Perhaps yoga or more tai chi but spring is coming and I yearn — yearn is a bit too strong to put the impulse — to be moving outside.  Gardening is out of the question right now.  Mud, mud, mud.  And there is still little bits of snow all over the yard.  And I’ve never tried a run.  The fact that Cheshire and Lisa have done it and are trying to make a Thanksgiving run part of our holiday celebration make me curious.

Julia is performing in the Spring Strings Festival today.  She passed — could play the song by memory — three tunes.  That puts her at level 2.  There are a lot of fifth grade kids at level 2.  She probably worked harder than most of those kids to learn and memorize those tunes.  And she is the only kid out of hundreds who has an aide sitting next to her, but she is there and playing.  Watching the rehearsal yesterday afternoon, I almost burst into tears.  I am so proud of her.  So happy for her.  Of course, when I told her, she was polite and happy to be doing the concert, but it was no big deal to her.  And isn’t that wonderful too?

There is a new sadness in the collage.  I am so proud of Julia and her playing.  Especially proud because music was such an important part of our family when Cheshire was growing up.  The sadness comes from not having anyone to share this pride and happiness with.  No one who knows the day-to-day struggles and can bask in the sunshine of rewards.  I guess I’ve felt this before, since David died, but when I did it was mixed with so much grieving that the feeling did not stand out.  And there were so many more days of struggle than of triumph so the achievements were not quite there to stand out.  Living away from family during Cheshire’s growing up, there were never grandparents or aunt and uncles to enjoy successes, but just us and our friends were enough.  Today, I text Cheshire and post of Facebook and send an email to Julia’s teacher.  Right now,  I want to scream that that is not enough!

I sit drinking tea, my head aching from being so close to tears.  I am grateful for every “like” and comment on Facebook.  Cheshire will write and be happy for us, and Julia’s teacher will be thrilled.  Would I have felt this alone had I chosen to be a single mother?  Certainly, life would have been full of circumstances like today.  Of course, I might have dealt with this sorrow when baby first walked.

The other truly incredible things about yesterday’s rehearsal was that Julia saw lots of kids she knew from both school and church school.  She said hello to all of them and called them by name.  Her therapy and school teams have been working on greetings and having her recognize individual kids for this entire school year.  At the beginning of the year, she did not know the names of many of the kids in her class, and I don’t think that it mattered to her.  They were “the kids” or “guys” to her.  I think they were a blur of noise and movement in her consciousness.  In the Fall, she and I sat with the composite class pictures for her class and the class that is paired with hers.  We reviewed names almost every night for a few months.  She learned the names but I did not see much generalization for what seemed like a long time.  Recently, when she tells me the three things she did during the day, names of different kids have surfaced.  Her observations are not deep but she calls one or the other her friend or her best friend.  There are still many times when she does not “hear” greetings said to her, but last night she had something to offer to everyone that she knew.

And math word problems, of which we do three every night, are getting ever so slightly easier.

Julia is on a roll!