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Tonight is extremely windy with snow blowing around but no accumulation expected. The wind is whipping the trees around, and I've seen garbage cans and other things rolling down the street. All in all, a blustery evening. It seemed like a great night for hot toddy, so I found a recipe that has some variations to the usual ingredients. Whiskey, lemon juice, Bragg's apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, hot water, a cinnamon stick, a lemon wheel, and a piece of star anise. So delicious, so perfect for warming me up on a windy night. It feels like a healthy drink!
The wind was so strong last night that I was awake more than I was asleep. At least that's how it felt. I'm not sure if I was worried the roof would blow off the house or if something would be hurled through a window or what. And I was physically uncomfortable. I could not find a way to get settled.
Today I had a writing session with my collaborator, and that went really well. Then I had to teach yoga to my high school students. They got a version of me they've never had before and they liked it.
Some of my high school students crack me up. Apparently they actually listen to what I say and even discuss some of my idiosyncratic turns of phrase. Two of them came into class giggling and eager to tell me how an email I sent out to our class made their day. I used the word "delicious" to describe the news that we have three additional days together as a group. I've used "delicious" to describe certain yoga poses or the sensations they elicit, and they took note. So I used "delicious" very deliberately in class, and they collapsed with laughter.
It's sometimes hard to convey to my students what "being present" really means or what it looks like. I try to find new ways of expressing it. I had an idea that I think may help. In the film "Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present" there is a segment in which she sits at a table in a huge gallery at MOMA and invites audience members one at a time to sit with her for one minute. It's very moving because she is 100% present with each person. She really sees each one. I need to show them that clip.
Today, three of my high school students came out to me as LGBTQ. That's a quarter of my class. One of them had a video on TikTok that went viral today, and she wanted me to see it. She good-naturedly pokes fun at her mom's response when she tells her she likes girls. And then she tells me she's bisexual. "Me too!" said her friend. And the boy in the group talked about coming out at his old school. I've never had a student come out to me and can't even imagine doing it when I was their age.
Weekends come, and I feel like a little load has lifted. I'm still surprised at how much my day-to-day life has not changed all that much since COVID. The first few months of the stay-at-home time were strange. But after the summer came, and I went back to in-person teaching (strange as that has looked and felt), my routine was pretty much as before COVID. For many other people it's been way weirder. The big thing that's different is that we don't do anything social, like going to restaurants or seeing friends or family.
When we had those high winds earlier in the week, I was sure that something was going to come flying through our windows. As I lay in bed listening to the wind, I could hear what sounded like flapping, like something barely attached was being tortured in the wind. To my surprise there were very few tree branches in our yard, certainly none of any size. Our neighbor told us that something had, indeed, come off our roof. A 6-foot piece of tin that caps the apex of the slate roof was lying in the rhododendron bush. Repair time!
This is the last week of school before spring break, and everyone is looking forward to it. The faculty are burned out; the students are stretched thin and exhausted. I, too, will relish the break, although I'm going to miss my students. They're a great group of kids, and I wish I could carry them into the next term. I have a new group that I'll start working with in early April, and with any luck I'll be working with the rowers again. I love working with high-schoolers. They're so on the cusp of adulthood you can smell it.
Each day this week has grown warmer. We'll be in the 60s by Thursday! Over the weekend it was just above 10 degrees at night. Sometimes the change to spring happens so fast. You blink and everything is in bloom. Blink again and we're in the 80s. Spring can be such a short season in New England. And it's so unpredictable. Some years we have had the heat on over Memorial Day weekend because it was in the 50s. Other years we have had to turn on the air-conditioning because temperatures rose above 90. Not sure which is worse.
I spent the last two months, five days a week, with a group of high schoolers and never saw their faces unmasked. A wall of floor-to-ceiling windows separates the yoga studio and the terrace. At the end of our final class today, I asked my students if they were willing to go out on the terrace one at a time and remove their masks so we could see each other's faces. They enthusiastically agreed. We lined up facing the windows and went out to reveal ourselves one by one. Joyous, sublime, awkward. We were grateful and we laughed.
Today was the first day I was eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19, so I got up at 4 o'clock in the morning to start trying to sign up for an appointment online. I'd been told that new appointments would be released between 4 and 6 am. There were 60,000 people ahead of me to sign up. I had no chance of getting one.
Someone I work with gave me a phone number to call to sign up for an appointment. None available, but they put me on a list to call when there is availability. Damn!
I tried everything I could to get a COVID vaccine appointment. Nothing. A friend who works at a vaccination clinic site suggested I show up 30 minutes before closing to see if there are any leftover doses. No guarantee, but I heard this sometimes works.
My husband and I, both K-12 educators, showed up and waited. Nine doses were available. No one over 75. A few over 65. A few more over 60. Someone younger with 2 comorbidities. Educators! We got the last doses for the day! I got a little misty as I walked through the door.
My arm is sore around the injection site where I got my COVID vaccine. I mean, REALLY sore. Like someone punched me hard in the arm. It feels a lot like a bruise, but I feel it even if I'm not touching it. No other after-effects, though. No fatigue, no fever, no other aches. All in all, I feel fine. And so grateful to have been able to get the vaccine.
Shot number two is in four weeks. I've heard a lot of people have a stronger reaction to the second dose. I'm just glad we have protection.
The switch to Daylight Savings Time always throws me off. I feel like that "lost" hour destroys my entire day. I always feel behind in everything I need to do.
I'm totally in favor of keeping one or the other -- daylight savings time or regular time -- year round. I don't even care which, although it is nice to have more daylight in the evenings during the summer weather.
It seems pointless to switch back and forth. After all, we can do virtually everything we want to do at any time we choose. I hate the flip-flopping.
A friend and neighbor was recently diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer. She's very generous and does a lot for other people but has difficulty allowing others to reciprocate. Flowers or a piece of art that she created suddenly appear on your doorstep. After many months of trying to figure out how to do a kind thing for her, she agreed to allow me to make food for her husband while she's in the hospital recuperating from surgery. I baked a pan of lasagna, made a salad and dessert, and took it to him today. You'd think it was gold!
I'd just moved to NYC and went to a party hosted by a college friend. We somehow got into a conversation about "Valley of the Dolls". As I walked home, I saw a pile of unsold books that a street vendor had abandoned. One of them caught my eye, and I quickly snatched it up: "Valley of the Dolls"!
It was a hardcover copy in good condition, and then I noted that it was a first-edition! I'm not sure it's worth a lot, but it represents that weird synchronicity that happens when you pay attention.
The honking began in the distance.
It was 6 o'clock in the evening, and late winter's chilly fingers held tight.
I heard them before I saw them.
The source of the noise at first eluded and disoriented me, but then I spotted the familiar V and saw the Canadian geese making their noisy way north.
Moments later the sound repeated: closer, louder, more isolated. Two geese had broken away from the cluster and were dipping and diving over the river. Whether they were lost or knew they would catch up later, they seemed to enjoy their time off-pack.
As a high school freshman, my son (an avid soccer player) had just finished tryouts for varsity soccer and was uncharacteristically nervous about the outcome. All evening he'd been checking his email every minute or so, and as we sat at the table working through an essay he'd written, he was edgy and distracted. He wanted this so badly but was unsure if he'd done well enough to make the varsity cuts. Finally, around 10 PM last night, he checked his notifications and saw the coach's email. He'd been selected for the varsity soccer team! We all were elated!
I've been researching my great-great-uncle, who migrated from West Virginia to Washington state in the early 1900s. Lots of twists and turns in his story, but he ended up living in the tiny town of Duvall for a number of years. I recently told some of his wild story to a friend who'd moved to Washington, and she said, "I. Live. In. Duvall!"
Yesterday I received from her a couple of books about the town, and as I perused them, I discovered a school photo from 1927. The teacher was my great-great-uncle's daughter-in-law! Freaky!
The first day of the spring! And our first long walk. The trees silhouetted against the blue sky are still bare, and the grass is brown. Or the kind of dormant green that indicates a state of suspended animation. The hillsides are largely gray apart from pines, but soon a shimmer of red will surprise us as the buds on the trees hint of unfurling leaves to come. Then a sprinkling of pale green will sweep across the tips of the branches as the first leaves emerge. They're almost like little green chicks pecking their way out of their shells.
My in-laws are officially two weeks past their second COVID vaccination! My son went to their apartment for the first time in more than a year and stayed overnight. In fact, he stayed there the entire weekend. They were ecstatic! They played games and had discussions; he watched sports with his grandfather. He also volunteered to help them with chores. I hope this is a sign that he is exiting the surly, uncooperative behavior of the early teens and coming back to the delightful person he's always been. Maybe living mostly in quarantine has given him a new perspective.
Reading deeds from the latter half of the 1800s and early 1900s has fried my brain. Decoding the beautiful handwriting is one thing, but interpreting the "deed speak" is another daunting task.
"Party of the first part, party of the second part."
"Witnesseth that for and in consideration of..."
"The former owner and late purchaser of the hereinafter described tract, piece or parcel of land..."
"The heirs of her body..."
And then there's the measurements: from a beech tree so many poles to a rock thence to a spring.
Doing this for dozens of acres!
I can't even.
It's a gorgeous spring week ahead, so I had three cubic yards of mulch delivered, which should be more than enough. A few things have already poked up through the ground, but I need to distribute the mulch so that the gardens look nice and it keeps the weeds at bay. I try to time the mulching during my spring break so that I have time to get it all done before the weeds have a chance to flourish. I use the black mulch to get the most dramatic effect as the flowers and plants burst through the dark background.
What was it like 90 years ago to live in a small town outside of Seattle, a town with 200 residents? There could not have been many job opportunities, especially as the Great Depression gripped the country. I can only imagine the difficulty faced by my cousin's wife, getting a job teaching in Seattle and having to live at the YWCA, seeing her husband only on the weekends. It would have been made even more complicated when they brought my cousin's father to live with them. He was elderly and increasingly senile. No wonder they had to have him committed.
I dreamed that we were moving back into the small one-bedroom apartment we occupied in New York City in the 90s. It was a great space for me as a single man and workable for us as a couple, but there we were trying to settle into this small space when I suddenly realized we didn't have enough room for our 15-year-old son. What were we thinking? Just getting the internet and cable turned on was a herculean effort. How could we possibly make this work? It made me realize that we could never live there again.
Several years ago I transplanted a couple of day lilies from my neighbor's yard to mine. I thought they would look nice in front of the house and on the front bank along the street. And they do.
I had no idea how much they would spread. They're super-spreaders!
And so I determined that I must eradicate them from one planting bed where they have taken over, a place I'd hoped would be primarily dedicated to irises, my favorite garden flower. After hours of digging, pulling, tossing, I've eliminated and transplanted most, if not all, of these pesky beauties.
How is it that the Earth remembers the Awakening?
Plants that died down in late summer
or in autumn
and lay dormant through the long nights of winter
suddenly burst through the soil
pushing past dead leaves
and other debris
to reach bright green arms
toward the sky.
I often think it won't happen this year,
that the Great Forgetting has begun
and the Earth will no longer rebuild
its Verdant Self
after the Graying.
And yet it happens.
Year after year.
Some plants grow several inches every day,
suddenly erupting into blooming flowers that bring color
and attract bees
to keep the cycle intact another year.
The mulching is done! The planting beds look great, and little shoots of daffodils, irises, and other early bloomers are poking up through the black mulch. The first daffodil has bloomed!
I'd love to plant seeds and bulbs, but it's way too early here. Some people wait until after Memorial Day, but I'll try earlier and keep a watch over the temperatures. We could still have freezing weather and snow into May. It's rare, but it happens.
Spring literally gives me hope. I see the signs of growth and change, and I want it to apply to the whole world.
The double whammy of sleep disturbance: full moon and high winds. I awoke so many times last night that I lost count. The rain had stopped, but I was concerned that the wind would blow the roof off our house.
Plus I had painful numbness in my arm and hand, the worst that it's been in a long time. Even now, the center of my hand feels like it has a dead spot in the middle of my palm.
Why does it feel like this is going to be a long week? It's certainly not off to a good start.
I'm not a sports person and never have been, but my 15-year-old son lives for sports! That means I've attended more games (baseball, basketball, soccer) than I ever imagined I would. And while I don't know the all the rules or the nuances of any of these sports, I appreciate his enthusiasm and abilities. Today was his first high school varsity soccer game -- as a freshman! -- and he was a starting player for both halves of the game! I was extremely disappointed not to be there, but his joy as he summarized the game made me proud!
The prep for a colonoscopy is far worse than the procedure itself. I mean, you're not awake for it, so how could it be bad, right? I can easily get through a day of fasting. If only I could be asleep for drinking a gallon of laxative-laced Gatorade and the hours-long aftermath of that "binge", I'd be much happier. This, of course, is why I missed my son's first varsity soccer game yesterday. It would have been physically impossible to do the prep AND attend the game. No fun at all. Good thing it's only once a decade.
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