Sunday, November 30, 2014

On Sunday Afternoon

Last week, I spent some time alone in the house, and it was eerily quiet.  This week, we are all home...and it is unusually quiet--but not eery.  After a trip to the library, we are all reading. Three of us tucked into soft corners of the living room, pages turning.  The cat is on a radiator nearby.  My girl is upstairs in her room.  The air is filled with imagination and breath and comfort. 

It is unusual for us to be together and so quiet, and as I leave my warm spot on the couch to go cook dinner, I find myself unwilling to put on the radio as I normally do in the kitchen.  I don't want to break the spell.  Tomorrow will be busy and noisy.  I want to soak in stillness just a little bit longer today.

Monday, November 24, 2014

In Remembrance

I learned the sad news today of a colleague's death.  She spent over 30 years at our institution.  Jean was fiercely committed to public higher education and its students.  She was president of our local union chapter for many years (longer than I've been there).  I can't imagine the place without her--not our department meetings, not our institutional governance, not the campus in general. 

Her death comes at almost the five year mark since my Dad's death, and I can't help but see parallels between them.  My Dad was a party line democrat; so was Jean.  My Dad was a dedicated union person; so was Jean.  My Dad was crusty on the outside, but so soft for those he loved most; so was Jean.  My Dad was a particular sucker for his daughters and grand-daughters; Jean was constantly talking about her "grand" nieces and nephews.  

They were both salt-of-the-earth New Englanders with good hearts.  I was not personally close to Jean, but I will miss her.  If there is a heaven (I'm unconvinced in either direction), I imagine she'd enjoy a cup of tea with my Dad if she ran into him.  Hopefully both of them would be satisfied with having spent their lives trying to do what they thought was right and just.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

This Day: Ordinary Beauty and Joy

I spent the vast majority of my day doing important but exhausting administrative work.  By the end of it, my body and mind were tight.  And yet, even on this day full of too much work, I am grateful for so many ordinary, beautiful, joyful things:
  • A great parent-teacher conference with Anya's teacher/s.  As expected, she's an ordinary, great kid who's doing just fine. Thriving, really.
  • Coffee out with Howard.  Sanity-saving.
  • While at coffee: working on a new, simple knitted hat in colors that I am loving.
  • Noticing the deep purple of blueberry jam in afternoon light.
  • 20 minutes of yoga to mark the end of the work day.
  • Simple, delicious food for dinner that felt healing.
  • Seeing a dear friend's wonderful piece on chimps in print!
  • Listening to favorite music while doing the dinner dishes
  • home-made chai this evening.
I think it's now time to let go of all of it and just relax...

What keeps you going on an insanely busy day?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Just Sunday, in Fall

It's the little things that remind us that life is good, yes?  There was nothing terribly special about this day, and yet so many things today reminded me to be grateful.

Anya, as usual, was my guide.  At home together while Sam was out (with his Dad in tow) at a karate tournament, she set the agenda.  (Okay, she set the agenda after I insisted on taking time to drink coffee.)  First up: making peanut butter cookies to celebrate her big brother's tournament day--a longstanding tradition is to cheer him loudly whether he placed or not.  Food is sometimes involved.  Second: raking leaves into a huge pile so that she could jump in them.  I didn't think I wanted to do this, but I've gotta say--it was nice to be out in the fresh November air, it got some of the raking out of the way, and it was fun to watch her play in the leaves.

And then Sam (who doesn't let me take pictures of him these days): that boy who was pleased with how he did at the tournament, even though he didn't place.  This same boy--turning into a man before my eyes these days--has recently decided which high school he is going to go to next year (we have two).  His choice was clear, intuitive, and based on a quieter focus on the teacher-student relationship with the school he chose.  The most impressive part?  He made this choice even though he is under the impression that most of his current friends will go to the other high school.  

The day included other things--some necessary work, review of a film I'll be showing in class, cooking.  A walk in the morning.  Really, nothing out of the ordinary.

And yet, it felt extraordinarily good. (If only Monday didn't have to come...!)

Sunday, November 9, 2014


In recent weeks, a problem at work has loomed larger and longer than it merits, and I have been feeling disconnected from my family and myself.  

Quiet therefore came to me just in the nick of time this weekend.  Time on the yoga mat (both at home and in class), time cooking and baking.  Time talking to a dear friend on the phone in a quiet house--peace around me broken only by the laughter we shared over the telephone line.  

I need to make sure to invite quiet into my days more frequently.  For my sake, and for the sake of all around me!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Genius...or Evil?

To the tune of "Jingle Bells":

Helping verbs, helping verbs--there are 23
Am, is, are
Was and were
Being, been, and be!
Has, have, had,
Do, did, does
Shall, should, will, and would!
There are 5 more helping verbs...

May, might, must, can, and could!

Anya's been singing it around the house, constantly, for the past couple of days.  Her teacher is either a genius (getting her to remember helping verbs) or completely evil (driving me up a wall with this song).

Then again, these are not mutually exclusive. She just might be an evil genius, and I could respect that.