30 August 2011
28 August 2011
27 August 2011
24 August 2011
After she was finished my phone rang and Cheshire needed directions, so Julia went outside to her beloved bugs. She loves rolly pollies -- she collects them, puts them in plastic containers and tries to keep them alive. She says she know who are the husbands and who are the wives. Some are babies.
Cheshire asked me to print out "An Evening with Jon Jones", David's last script. I found a version, longer than what was done on stage in February, on the flash drive that I carry. Is it too weird to carry around David's last flash drive. I don't think about it often, but I do carry it. How convenient is it to carry an author's work around. Although, to be honest, most of what is one it is the business and minutia of life, not creative endeavors.
22 August 2011
21 August 2011
19 August 2011
17 August 2011
16 August 2011
16 Aug. 2011
Today, I put Julia’s bedroom together. I wasn’t in any rush to do it because she doesn’t sleep there! I did Cheshire’s room yesterday -- she is coming home on Saturday, and then, thought I’d move on to Julia’s. I rearranged furniture and made a little book nook with her beanbag chairs and a fluffy rug. I showed her the room and we read a book in it during the day, but I expected nothing else.
But tonight, after she was in pjs and brushed her teeth, she went into her room to get a book. She climbed on her bed to read the book and I asked if she wanted her quilt which was in my room. She assented and I grabbed the quilt and her stuffed dinos that she sleeps with as well. We all settled into her bed to read, then we did loving kindness meditation, kissed, and I asked if she wanted the night light and the bathroom light on. She said yes, I said good night. And that was that.
Was she waiting for me to do something with her room?
This is exactly how I stopped laying down with her until she fell asleep. It just happened one night. I know I will miss her little body in my bed, but she has not slept in her own bed since David died. I decided not to push her at all. And wow, she did it. Even if it is only for tonight!
Horseback riding update: Julia’s weekly lessons are beginning to melt into our schedule. Today, for the first time, Julia was not anxious about her lesson. She still remembers little from week to week, but her demeanor is quieter and she is following directions. There were only two aides for each rider today. Now, it could have been there were not enough volunteers to give each kid a third aide, but I prefer to believe that the three young riders are now able proficient enough to lose one of their helpers. The new skill was posting -- that funny, rhythmic bouncing that riders do when horses trot. It will take more than one lesson to learn this one, but Julia did it for a few seconds a number of times.
I am ready to sign her up for another round of lessons. I hope that there will be a class that can fit into our busy schedule.
And here is something that looks like a turtle. I'll have to catch the name some other time.
And here she is with her favorite, I hope, dinosaur.
15 August 2011
13 August 2011
11 August 2011
10 August 2011
08 August 2011
05 August 2011
So, today. Just wow. Maybe a specular last day to seal the deal that we will come back next year.
Julia was off to her last day of camp today. Tonight, she told me she was going to miss camp tomorrow. They did their regular camp stuff today and also had a “halloween party”. I am not sure what they did, but Julia ate candy corn.
My day: The morning began with my last class on Islam, taught by a professor from CUNY at Buffalo. Today, we talked about women and revolution. Then, before lunch, Hossein Mousavian, the former Iranian Nuclear Negotiator, spoke. At 2, Karen Armstrong lectured on the Theology of Revolution. And tonight, Straight No Chaser, a male a cappella ensemble which formed over a dozen years ago while students at Indiana University. Not high art, but ever so much fun.
I have enjoyed the communal living of a basement kitchen space with assigned tables, frig space, storage shelf, and many stove tops lining the walls. Julia learned how to use a battery powered sweeper and cleaned around and under our table and as many other places as she could fit in. Our cooking has not been gourmet -- maybe a bit more of that next year -- but it was simple and ample. And especially good, after some junky traveling food of the days before.
My contractor send pictures of my new painted walls and the finished floors. It is time to go back to my new, old house and set life up again. It is time for a new year.
The Hall of Philosophy where we attended a UU service on Sunday and where I listened to the afternoon lectures.
The bell tower that rings in each quarter of an hour and the original dock and receiving building. Oh, and Julia on the little beach.
04 August 2011
Julia, not visible in this picture, is in the crush of kids. Her ear plugs and head phones on her head to deal with the very loud organ music.
03 August 2011
We woke up to rain this morning and indeed, the release of moisture from the air was delightful for awhile, but it is close to four now and it is once again muggy and gray. There is a light glaze of sweat over my body and I did doze for a few minutes during a very good lecture on the minority populations in mid-eastern countries. There are so many riches here. The chance to learn about subjects that I know a bit less than nothing -- Islam, Iran, middle east policy -- and to listen to inspired speakers can be a bit overwhelming. I am deeply happy.
I do wish that David and I had made the effort to take Lisa up on an invitation to come here long ago. David may have been a bit put off by the elitist WASP culture, although there is a Jewish community here, small but visible, but his course on Film and the First Amendment would have gone over incredibly well in this place.
Julia is back from camp. More on camp another time. Having an aide at camp has proved to be quite a good idea. Putting Julia in with kids another year her junior -- kids going into 3rd grade -- was also a good idea. But for now . . .
Julia came home today with Taylor and I presented her with three choices. We could go and learn about bats, we could sit on our porch and draw, or we could watch the dance rehearsal (for tonights performance). Julia chose the dance rehearsal -- rather surprising -- and sat in the front row of the theater (which is right next door to our house and very visible from our upstairs porch. Really a delight!) in wrapped attention. Umm, is wrapped attention the right words to described her? She made a few comments. She was especially impressed by how sweaty the dancers. I had to laugh at that. Rarely, have I seen her so interested in something outside of her own art or dinosaurs.
The camp counselors have prepped the kids for seeing a performance of Peter and the Wolf tomorrow. Julia can’t wait. I’ve just heard about some of the instruments who are like animals, and how Peter’s grandfather told him not to go into the forest. Is my girl turning into an arts enthusiasts? Could I be more delighted?
Two days ago, working on numbers, Julia counted backwards from 12. It was a workbook page and I did not expect that she could fill in the countdown. I was ready to tell her to do it backwards -- to start at one and count up -- but she did it backwards without pause. I cheered!
To be sure, Julia is still different from her peers. It is most evidence in her social dealings, but she continues to make attempts at talking to other kids and adults. Often she misses the cues -- people being friendly, greeting her or asking her a question. But she does reach out. She is rebuffed at times, girls roll their eyes and walk away from her. That still hurts me much more than it does her. And then, Julia tries again -- saying something different or talking to someone else. I don’t know what she thinks about the rebuffs or if she recognizes them for what they are. If she does not realize what is going on, it is a blessing for now. If she does, then she is so brave to persevere in friendliness. Either way, her spirit expands.
02 August 2011
Oh, this is not fair! I am awake at 3:44 a.m. but I cannot connect to the internet and so cannot check if the new Harry Potter site (Pottermore.com) has put up a new clue to qualify to enter the sight before the general public. I admit that this is a silly pursuit but I had thought to get into the site and then introduce Julia to it, hoping that she too would catch Harry Potter fever -- What fun I had reading and sharing the books with Cheshire as they came out. With Julia’s new found love of words and reading, and the website’s stated goal to encourage reading, and also the tantalizing preview of great graphics, I thought this was a match made in heaven. Well, and the challenge of Potter trivia for seven days with the prize of entrance to the site before October when it opens for general use. But the last two days, I checked just after midnight but the clues had not been published, and then on waking around 7 a.m. to find that all the entrant spaces have been filled. 3:44 seems like a promising time to check for clue and entrance, but no internet.
Work on the house goes well. My contractor has called me each week I’ve been gone to report. The best news has been that it all goes smoothly with no major surprised. Renovation on an old house can always bring surprises -- expensive, time consuming, and necessary add-ons that must be done. There is one -- removal of a grease well -- that will have to be tackled this fall. It is a necessary, moderately expensive fix because of a water leak that was badly patched by previous owners. I have been mildly concerned that we would find more of this sort of repair, and utterly thrilled that this is not the case. Is there a saint of home renovation? A small pagan deity? I household shrine may be in order.
I took some “before” pictures at home before dismantling the house. I looked at them last night. Two things struck me. First, that the furnishings and decorations did not look permanent. Pictures were on the walls and books in cases and furniture in every room, but nothing quite fit. Nothing had really changed since David’s death and at that time we had been in the house for 3 years. I don’t remember how long it took David and I to make our Indianapolis house a home, but it was longer than that. I don’t know how long it will take in Madison, or if it will happen at all. I am still so new to doing it on my own.
Second, I hope to resist the impulse to just put everything back where it was before, especially art and photos. I don’t know how long I want to leave the walls bare -- I usually rush to hang art and put books on shelves as soon as I move into a new home. New bookcases will encourage the later but I’d like to hang pictures slowly. I did really like the gallery feel to the stairway and upstair’s hall -- this house does not have the wall space to hang as much art as I like on the walls. But I am looking for calm, for peace, and then for right-placement. I don’t even know what I mean by this.
Chautauqua is all that Lisa promised -- she has been trying to get me here for years. Years and years. To admit right off to its weaknesses -- it is WASPy, probably too geeky for many palates, and really expensive. Also, the guest “star” of this week is Dan Brown, the author -- whose writing I do not like and whose lecture confirmed my opinion. I was slightly disappointed that he was received here like a celebrity, a literary hero. But putting all that aside, it is wonderful! And we have not yet explored the entire enclave or played on the beach! I am going to three lectures a day while Julia is at day camp! We are meeting interesting people, and because of Lisa’s work and invitation to preach, socializing with at least as few long time vacationers. There is the charm of a near carless community, a casual friendliness and acceptance, facilities for classes and lectures and worship, many of which are open on three or four sides, live music being performed or rehearsed almost constantly. Tomorrow evening, there is dance!
How I would love to be able to spend a week or two here each year! What an environment to claim as a family tradition. The biggest pause to such a plan and/or wish is economic. There seems to be a few ways to make this a more affordable vacation, the most promising for me is to offer to teach something for the week. Lisa is teaching this week and peaching next week. Each gig -- the teaching and the preaching -- comes with one free gate pass and one free parking pass. And so, I have to wonder if I can come up with anything to propose by the October deadline.