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Given my shit performance last month, I’m determined to do better this month. Six years ago, I didn’t complete this month. There was a lot going on: the aftermath of the wedding, my parents staying with us in the new house, a brief honeymoon trip to Connecticut, Boston and Rhinebeck (I think, though I’m very sure about the Rhinebeck bit) and returning home to Superstorm Sandy, which left us without power for 9 days. I think I was at least writing daily notes until Sandy, but after we lost power, life was about getting through the days.
Simon and Garfunkel’s classic, America is one of my favorites. I think it is an amazing song, timeless - it doesn't matter that 50 years old now. The saxophone noodling around, the concept being lost in America (perhaps more relevant today than ever) it's quite a perfect piece. As fond as I am of the Yes cover, the simple arrangement of the original it is just perfect. The song works as well today - no, it is even more affecting today. The song seems to kick me harder every year. I want my own trip of discovery and wonder across America.
The guru’s words yesterday of exhortation, advice, whatever – they seem be a little too true. He suggested that I need to do things consistently in small doses rather than an extended session only occasionally. He likened it to 10 minutes of meditation each day rather than two hours once a month. Oh, how true that is! I am supposed to be reflective here. This is not a diary. At least, not so obviously. perhaps this external call to action will help motivate me. And I need to capture my words early in the day not late in the evening.
I have never been much on kids in general. I have forgotten (repressed?) nearly everything about that summer camp at the museum (summer before college), except Karl and Max; I fell in love with those two little guys. So this student workshop project has been a trial for me in more than one way. The warm welcome back by this group frankly surprised me today. Also, the spontaneous hug goodbye from one of them, not quite the littlest, but close took me aback – until I realized she was hugging my colleagues as well. The hug was about her, not me.
Oh, my! Dad looks so much better than he did when I last saw him. And that was so much better than when I first saw him in the hospital. His face had color – with a bit of a fresh tan. He was moving about easily, bending, not doing that old man shuffle that he had last year. It took me a while to realize that he was not even using his cane. At all. Superimposing the memory of how he was last year with now confirms that he was already very sick then, we just didn’t know it.
The first morning is always disorganized. No one adjusted to the schedule, or the lack of individual bathrooms. It is late morning by the time everyone eventually had breakfast. Dad and I head off to get the new storm/screen door for the porch which is only available at Home Despot. I should have known that it wouldn’t be easy to actually GET the door, even though the website indicated they have several in stock. The longest part of the whole process was trying to get someone to help – the door was stored in a bay above ground level.
The local state university leaves a lot to be desired. It is filled with ugly architecture. The largest local employer, it has the reputation of being a bad neighbor. It has no reasonable accessible parking for non-student, non-faculty visitors, not even on weekends. And at $4 per hour it is expensive and inconvenient parking. I had thought that it would be very simple to stop by and drop off the return package. But of course it wasn't, I had to drive the big loop around campus to get to get to parking even somewhat close to the library.
Dad is still having memory issues. Working through the door project, we were fine – it went altogether much easier than I expected. But now that it is done, he is fretting that he’s not done anything. He wants to do more, needs to do more. He doesn’t remember being sick, so he doesn’t actually have a clue how much disruption there’s been. I guess that is a blessing in disguise, he’d be terribly upset by it. And mom say's he’s ready to go home now. Does he know how long he’s been here?
Today was family history day. I didn't know about Jane, my dad’s paternal aunt until I was in high school or college. Dad recounted the summer vacation driving across the country to meet her for the first time, in Bakersfield. And the brand new family Buick breaking down somewhere in Nevada, requiring a new engine. Our past research efforts have been stymied by the fact that grandpa called his sister Jane, yet apparently that is her middle name. But tonight we found Jane’s obituary, and learned about her daughter, with -surprise, surprise- the same last name as Grandpa.
What’s the saying: while the cat is away, the mice will play. What a description of human nature. Pity that it is apparently so true, of so many, in nearly every environment. The human species, with its seemingly inherent drive to conquer, colonize and organize communities, is beset by this contradictory weakness. Or is it only some individuals that have the weakness, which they spread like sickness amongst their co-irkers (I love that word!)? When my boss is out, I view it as a time to actually get shit done, without constantly being asked to do other things.
Who knows the story of your parents first meeting? And who knows the story of how their grandparents first met? Somehow the idea of grandma in orange shorts blows my mind. Either one of those concepts is shocking to me: either that she would wear orange or that she would wear shorts. But together? this is an unfathomable image of my grandmother. She was always fashionable, however, and she was quite shapely back in the day, but - orange shorts?!? Certainly a woman on a bridge wearing orange shorts, on a bike or driving a truck, would have been eye-catching.
I could find fault with many things about today - particularly our dinner. But today I choose to think mostly about the things that have gone right over the last six years. And the nine years before then, since this is the day we first met in person. The decisions we made to get us to that point, and those we’ve made since then. Some we made together, some separately. And some were made for us by circumstances. Where do we go from here? Both figuratively and literally – where do we go? What is our plan for the future together?
I never knew that grandpa was born in Minnesota. How is it I’ve never read his obituary before? He may have loved the water (I would love to have a picture of the diving bell he built), but he was fascinated by people, all kinds. He was always up for an adventure. Learning that he followed Grandma to Michigan was like a piece of the puzzle dropping into place, as was the date of their marriage, about six weeks after Pearl Harbor. I need to get the rogue’s picture gallery back up somewhere, it has been too long.
We’re still paying for the kitchen renovation – not money, but things that aren’t right, things we don’t know where to put, and things we put away and still haven’t found. I typically have multiple kinds of cinnamon – you need to match type to the application to get the right results. Seriously! But I only found one type of cinnamon and no cardamom. We have cardamom, but apparently not the ground kind for baking, just whole pods of the type for chai. So the spice cookies are definitely lacking, but I like their little cake-y texture.
Timothy house is now a monastery. My heart sank at the thought of that house not being loved and enjoyed for what it is - which doesn't seem possible as a monastery. When the signs went up on both sides of the driveway, it crushed me more than when the for sale sign was taken down. Perhaps I have inaccurate and outdated conceptions of what a monastery is. Perhaps they will take care of it, treasure it and not wear it out as a family with children might. Will they do something with the land in front? An apiary for honey?
Sunshine in the morning that lights up the sky and the trees with a warm glow makes such a huge difference in attitude. Winters in Michigan were (still are!) tough because of the lack of sun, but as a kid, if there was snow to play in, I didn’t mind so much. Only in the last month, with so many gray rainy misty damp days, have I really appreciated the sunshine here, particularly on mornings when I struggle to wait with the shortening days. It's not completely dark when I wake, but it is no longer already completely light.
It is as though we jumped from summer directly into deep fall this year, with temperatures now below average. Rhinebeck is this weekend. With the very cool, crisp breeze, with bright sunshine, I was flooded with a sudden longing to go again. There is something about fall days that remain cool in the face of shafts of sunshine breaking through the skies that is entrancing. I say this every year but maybe next year, maybe I’ll go -- if I make serious in roads in my stash, if I'm not working, if my parents aren't visiting, if, if, if only.
Happy Birthday to dad! I am so happy I can say that this year. This spring was more than a little rocky, and while I don’t know that we ever thought his departure was immanent, his prospects didn’t look all that good for a while. But today was cake day, which actually for him means pie day – and he appears to have been truly spoiled at dinner by mom before heading off to a radio club meeting – on the anniversary of his first meeting some 55 years ago. How many people have such a long term, beloved hobby?
Given the fact that dad’s parents and both sisters have already died, and mom’s parents and sister too, I’ve had all the adult discussions with them. I know their wishes: that neither of them wants to be tied to machines, or any extraordinary measures – it seems to be a family trait. Our interpretation of ashes to ashes is quite literal, cremation is always the choice. These choices have been recorded in legal documents now. Although I’m still waiting on my copy of the paperwork, there are no siblings arguing about outcomes or whose turn it is.
It was a good discussion of the future, even if it started with the bed. Or rather the mattress. It has only been a week since we changed the mattress around and already it is agreed – we need a new bed. I’ve slept on that side for over a year, but whatever. The discussion of the bed of course, naturally!, led to a discussion of finally tackling the ‘planning’ documents himself promised me after the fun and games this spring with my parents. Only a real adult would consider this necessary and slightly depressing step as good or productive.
Thirty years ago, I was studying in Bonn, Germany. Living on ground floor of Am Wichelshof. Sitting in huge lecture classes on art history. A major crush on my Hieroglyphs professor. Practicing for hours in the rooftop rooms. Kaffeestunde with Molly. Running into Christoph again. Listening to U2 on my Walkman while traipsing about on foot. Soup & sausage for lunch at the university cafeteria. Watching Koyaanistqaatsi at the art house movie theater. Finally getting a rental bike. Except for the how it ended, it was a fabulous year. I should read my letters home sometime, see what I’ve forgotten.
Twenty years ago, I bought my house. I never realized before that it was ten years after my year in Germany. I had been looking for months, I must have seen more than 50 houses, and nearly bought the wrong house at one point. Despite all the problems I encountered getting to the closing, I never questioned if that house was a good idea; I knew the house was mine. The neighbors, with one exception, were terrific – and the exception didn’t last long. For nearly fifteen years I lived in that house, and loved it. Thank you again, Grandpa.
The card swap last year was so successful that the group is already beginning to ask when does it start again. I hadn't done anything about finding cards, but yesterday I found a few inexpensive boxes and postage in bulk, so I'm once again taking the easy way out. Pre-fab is less personal but much more manageable this year. Maybe next year I will make my own – I did get the punch tool this year. Some holiday stamps, some glitter... I’ve already got the red, green & white yarn. But I will still be short on time this year.
Fall is a good time for reflection. Since my parent’s visit, I’ve been spending some of my spare cycles living in the past. Something big happens, some life altering event, good or bad, and then it suddenly you realize that something happened 10 years ago - a decade. Thinking of all of the things that have happened in the last 10 years – since the horrible month. I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am now without that month of massive change. However, considering my long term investments, where could I have gone without the setback? - that's the question.
The group decision to restore Friday night KnitNite delights me beyond all words. Particularly as it was brought up by someone else. No longer just on first Friday, but all Fridays – and yes, we actually took a vote on it. I need the punctuation of that social gathering at the end of the week, to help mark the end of the week and give some separation from work - provide a real transition into the weekend. Twenty years ago, I had dinner at Trio as a way to turn off my mind and forget about the office. Now, it is KnitNite.
The two days I used to spend working in the incubator at the end of the week was my regular opportunity to clear the decks, to focus and do deep dives, or to have exploratory phone calls. It was quiet. I was left alone. I could play my music. There were no distractions. I never minded the lack of… amenities. The view was not as nice as looking at the harbor, but I was always looking directly out at the green. It has only been three months, but I miss it terribly. Working from home is just not the same.
I am bound in on all sides. I am compressed. Restrained. Confined. The space I am.... allowed.. makes me feel claustrophobic. I am beyond disappointed at how this single attempt to bring some organization into the space was so poorly received. I am giving serious thought how to abandon the space altogether. The only problem is that the only place I could retreat to is already quite filled. The space is the repository of most of my belongings, the dumping grounds for what previously inhabited a room more than twice it’s size. I am the only one downsizing here.
The blog post title got me very excited: knitting and pie? Knitting and PIE! Alas, the actual post was a bit disappointing; I think only a non-knitter would think that top pie crust looked like knitted stitches and cables. But I have the perfect forum for sharing this disappointment – my online tribe, people who is very into both pie and knitting (and other things, but let’s stay on topic). And they didn’t disappoint me, from sharing favorite types of pie, to pie recipes and even had pictures of pie that truly appeared to have a knitted crust.
The 2018 Chesterball Run has concluded, with a very happy outcome. In a weekend filled with dreck headlines and so much pain, it was a wonder to watch the plan come together: shuttle an older cat who’s elderly human died across several states to a new forever home with a human who’s elderly cat had died. Group members contributed cat food, toys, air fare, and anything that was needed. Chester clearly forgave any hassles over the last month as logistics were finalized, and understood quickly that he was home – sleeping next to the human on the first night.
After much gnashing of teeth, DH’s mom underwent a significant medical procedure today. With no family present to drop her off or be there for her afterwards. I just don’t get it, but I’ll stop before I say any moret. Late in the day, himself was finally able to talk with her directly and be assured that she was doing well – in fact, he thinks she feels better than she has in years. She’s not home yet, but since this was a novel, minimally invasive procedure, she may be released tomorrow. Thanksgiving in the city, anyone?
It is a nearly perfect Halloween tonight: sunshine, in the 60’s, the trees at nearly full color – that little bit of green still there that sets off the scarlet and orange. The pumpkins were easy to clean and carve and the kids were almost all picture perfect: elementary and middle school kids in costume. Despite all the horrors currently inhabiting our real world, this was an evening that felt like ten years ago: full of trick or treat, make-believe, and possibilities of a dark autumn night – what is at the heart of my Halloween. The tradition lives on.
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