Showing posts with label Can/Did. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Can/Did. Show all posts

Saturday, June 03, 2023

Max week

It has been a week of/with/at Max. 

I'm so relieved Huck and Max seem to be getting along better. They're not cuddling together (yet), but they play (fight) quite nicely and they really bonded over their mutual panic this morning when I vacuumed the whole house.

Speaking of which, I had to go into Nu's room with a handful of plastic bags and a stack of laundry baskets just to be able to see their floor... I'm not exaggerating, and I'm genuinely worried about this child's ability to live on their own in a couple of years without hoarder-level dysfunction. (Finals week is coming up for Nu, and the stress has seemingly wrought havoc on them.)

Long conversations with sis and mom this morning, while the rest of the fam was asleep, about our India visit in August. One of the things we were discussing excitedly was if we should drive or take the train on some internal trips. And then friends began to text to check in because of the horrific train crash in northern India. It doesn't seem like anyone I knew was on either passenger train, but the huge death and injury tolls are sad and terrifying.

Pic: Huck and Max sharing (the path) by Scout's memorial. 

Thursday, June 01, 2023

half a sonnet for you

the day is a mirror
                                   it speaks in silence
only the two of us
                                   can still remember 
to laugh and laugh
                                   for  we can  laugh 
at almost anything
                                     unmastered, wild
the sun at our backs
                                     light in our eyes
our old life merely
                                     strings of memory
this new life yet
                                     in uncharted sands

Pic: Red Cedar River from the Sparty Bridge with BD.
Note: 14 half lines; about five syllables each. Kind of like one of those necklaces each one gets to keep half of.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023


Today I was busier than anyone ought to be at the start of summer--but there were huge deadlines to meet. And although I'd been working on them steadily for the past week, the final steps were still due. 

All done now (3:12 am): submitted MCTE materials, turned in Spring Term grades, approved pending NWSA proposals (and created and titled about twenty panels). Not a bad day's work. 

Remember when I wanted to set a timer to take regular breaks? Turns out I don't have to if there is a puppy who needs frequent potty breaks. So I got outside a lot too--it was gloriously summery.

Pic: Max gamboling. When you're so little, you can just slip through the fencing where mom's flowers are...

Tuesday, May 30, 2023


windows look to the sky
they look  like  skies
birds could fly into

weightless the horizon
and  sightless  the sky 
yet birds fly there too 

there is only waiting
and  the  wearing 
of shiny new loss

 dreaming  up  sequels
where we just call for
birds to fly through

Pic: Peonies are showing off.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Memorial Day

Yesterday we made a little Scout memorial. 

Originally, I thought we'd scatter his ashes around the bend where he'd come bounding to greet me. The wild phlox is in season again, so all that's missing from the scene of my favorite photo is Scout. But then I began to worry that if we moved to a different house in the future, we'd be leaving some part of him here, so I decided to continue to keep his ashes on the altar. As Big A pointed out, that little space off the kitchen where the altar is really is where Scout spent a lot of time hanging out with me while I meditated, or he waited for me to finish my kitchen chores, or he hung out trying to convince me to give him pets or treats.

I went through a lot of memorial stones with words on them, but I knew even as I checked with Big A that he'd find them too cheesy/ersatz. So I went with a rainbow wind chime and a solar lantern, and we set those up yesterday. I think I'll add a laminated photo to the wind chime in a bit. It was comforting to have a space for our memories of Scout while indulging in nostalgia and family hugs. And when I took Max out for a potty break at midnight, the pretty, patterned light from the perforated lantern was a sweet and steadying presence.

Pic: Scout's memorial. In the background, today's picnic with EM and Nu.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Mother's Day!! (observed!)

We celebrated Mother's Day today as I was in England on the actual day. All day long At/Nu/Big A would say "Happy Mother's Day!" And then add sotto voce--"observed!"--as though they were reading off a calendar. Perhaps you had to be there, but it was low key hilarious. 

It was a Happy Mother's Day for me. We made breakfast tacos, which turned out delicious (At and Big A took some leftovers for later). At and Nu helped me dig up and plant some redbud saplings that L gave me and then we all worked in the garden as has become our custom. At and Nu put the new garden chairs together, Huck climbed on top of the picnic table to sun herself as she always does, and Max followed me around as I weeded and puttered and then flopped into the grass by my feet to nap. When the chairs were built (hi-jinks and a few YouTube videos were involved), we picnicked with lemonade and donuts. Nu and Huck headed back inside and I had a lovely heart-to-heart with my eldest while Max napped on my feet. 

Pic: The kids with me before card, presents, and heading outside...


Saturday, May 27, 2023


Max is tiny; the responsibilities are huge. 

One forgets the massive undertaking the care and keeping of little ones can be. 

He's absolutely adorable; the way he toddles around being curious about everything is my favorite thing. What it must be to be all of eight weeks old in the world! I keep thinking Scout, friend to all beings, would have loved to play with him. 

Max likes shoes and has made a little pile of toys, shoes and hand towels in the rumpus room... I'm hoping that the people who live in my house and love their Converses, Docs, and Campers will start putting them away properly out of fear of Max now. Ha.

Pic: Nu with Huck and Max in the backyard.

Friday, May 26, 2023

no way but welcome

Max is here. Welcome, little one! 

This is a crazy idea and the timing seems way off. But I feel my heart growing as I find ways to welcome Max into the family. JN whose idea this was initially is 100% this is the right move (I was drinking a non alcoholic cider slushie yesterday so I was fully present), the rest of the family seemed convinced too, and suddenly we have a new puppy.

So far: Max, who is all of eight weeks old, is very enamored of Nu; likes to cuddle me like a lovey and sleep on my feet if I'm in a chair; pooped in the backyard three times like a champion; peed in the house twice by accident; likes walks and tolerates a leash; learned to ‘aah cheppu’ (say aah)  and eat from a spoon; is afraid of train sounds in our backyard; likes treats, but does not care for chewy treats; has learned to play with toys; has barfed up a meal; has chewed through a charging cable; is definitely the best poser in the family…

Huckie has been ignoring Max for the most part, although she's the main reason he's here. That and the fact that Max needed a family and a home. Huckie has been so forlorn since Scout. Big A and I have been worried about her going into decline as she was uninterested in most things, not eating enough, and--this part freaked us out--doing things only Scoutie used to do like refuse to use stairs, lie absolutely still with a tail wagging welcome, etc. We hope Huckie and Max will be best-friend-sibs, but if that doesn't happen, that's ok too. I'm perfectly fine if she decides to live her best life out of spite; she certainly seems more animated already.

(Scout was named for Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird; Huck was named from Huckleberry Finn; Max is named for Max from Where the Wild Things Are--well, we already have a "Rumpus Room," nothing left to do but let the wild rumpus start, I suppose.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

but I haven't told all the stories yet

It has been a month.

I'm sorry to sound like a broken record, but I can't say it out loud to other people (except Big A)... I miss Scout. I miss Scout. I miss Scout. 

I do keep telling stories about him to everyone... and sometimes if the person I'm telling the story to is a stranger I might never see again, I tell the stories in present tense as though he were alive. 

I have so many stories. How we called him the 'writing wolf', because he'd wake up and hang out with me to write. Or how we called him 'wolf puppy' when he'd writhe on his back and bare his teeth. and how--we don't have a name for this--but how he'd get upset at raised voices and bark at the person who was being mean. 

Pic: Scout running to meet me--just about two years ago. This may be my favorite (grainy, fuzzy) picture of Scout.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

being back

A puttering-around and recovering kind of day...

For me that meant watering my million indoor plants, cleaning the kitchen and kitchen appliances, changing the bed linens to summer friendly fabrics and patterns, sweeping and mopping the ground floor, and so on. I'd planned to vacuum the whole house, but Nu saved me.

(Nu saved me, that is, by leaving disposable contact lens cases and clean and dirty laundry and books and toys and trash all over their bedroom floor, so I kind of gave up on domestic goddess-ing at that point and contented myself with just getting the ground floor done.)

Then Big A came back early from Milwaukee, so there was a lot of squealing, and a long Sparty hike, and a long soak, and so much jabbering. Nu came back from school and tidied a little bit. It was Big A's Boss Day, he picked Sushi, and after a family hang out, it was early bedtime for everyone (except me).

Pic: Merely one pile of the yellowing and browned leaves I picked off my plants. Thanks to Nu who did some emergency watering while I was away, they're all alive. I'm hoping I can nurse my plants back to fullness soon. 

Monday, May 22, 2023

Home: In two pics

I brought my midwestern travelers home!
I love that there are some families and parents in this picture too...

Reunited with my babies! They took this selfie looming over me as I was falling asleep on the couch around 8:00 pm.


Saturday, May 20, 2023

Karl Marx, Gordon Ramsay, Farewell London

Last day in London today. I'd signed us up for a Karl Marx walking tour, but most people wanted to try to get on the London Eye, so off they went with my blessings. I took the bus to Piccadilly Sq. to meet the walking group and milled about on the fringes of a well-heeled, Boomer-ish looking group until I realized they were there for The Beatles walking tour. A few feet away a smaller, rag-tag group was beginning to gather and when I tentatively asked "Marx?" They responded "Yes!" and "Absolutely!" so enthusiastically I felt I was at a political rally.🙂

The guide has a doctorate in Marx studies, and although the sights themselves were merely the seedy front of buildings and smelly alleys, I learned A LOT. The best moment was towards the end of the tour when hearing about Eugene Pottier's travel through England, our multicultural group began to sing The Internationale in their native tongues.

So I had a super nerdy day by myself, then a farewell dinner with the group at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant recommended by a student, where we celebrated another student's birthday, and suddenly everyone seemed super sad to leave and "return to reality." I love these people. But also, I miss my babies, and am ready for my routines and grappling with the reality of a life without Scout. 

we got jokes


I miss my irreverent and rowdy family.

Friday, May 19, 2023

in the now

Now comes light and kindness
now vagrant  looks and opaque  fights
now the child tries to die again
he is 12, and he's tried eight times  now
I comfort his sister, make her tea
 give her my empty words, take hers on
but we're a continent too far away
things are always going--pride and  envy
the burst seeds of temper or love
if the not dead dream of kindness and light 
can we bring it to them right now?

Pic: From the nave of St. Martin in the Fields. Lunchtime concert (Carolyn Taylor and Sebastian Issler).

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Jhalak: a glimpse*

Sunny Singh generously spent  the morning with us, taking questions about her work from students who'd  written about her work using superlatives in their reading journals.

And in the evening, we attended the fabulous Jhalak Prize celebration at the London Library as Sunny's guests. This was definitely a highlight of the trip--most of the authors on the shortlists (children's and adult) were on hand to give a short reading and mingle. There is so much great writing in the world... I need to rearrange my life so I can read it all.

Pic: Travis Alamanza, Ann Sei Lin, Danielle Jawando, Christine Pillainayagam, Lucy Farfort, Angela Hui, Anita Pati, and Charles Patterson. Sheena Patel and Ayanna Banwo are up to hijinks with their books in the front row.

* Jhalak translates as "glimpse," so I'm being as tautological as chai tea.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

"All the world's a stage"

I'm in bed mode now, so just four more days before I head for home. I can make fake it. (Look at me with all my theater and acting references.)

I've been checking in with students and our chaperone, and basically everyone is simultaneously having a great time and also ready to go home. Good to know I'm not the only one.

Also, the last time I did this, At came along as a student and Nu came along as my companion, and I made breakfast for them in my flat every morning and we weren't apart for Mothers' Day. Guess it makes sense that this time would feel different and difficult.

Pic: A Comedy of Errors at the Globe Theatre. Not my favorite Shakespearean play, but I did enjoy it more than I thought I would because it was a different version from the one I saw in May 2019.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Hyde Park Time

In honor of being at Speakers' Corner, everyone recited a small piece from a famous Hyde Park speaker. It's always interesting what people choose--we heard a variety from Pankhurst to Orwell.

I remember specifically asking people to memorize their bit, and... some didn't. I need to sit with why I feel so irritated by this.

I don't feel well today. + I'm at that point in the trip where I'm seriously counting down how long before I get to go home. A week is the upper limit of time I can spend away before the experience begins to pall. 

Pic: Our picnic at Hyde Park. 

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Kensington Pavilion: A toast to tea

In preparation for reading the Edwardians, we sat down to a proper afternoon tea party in the Kensington Palace pavilion today. And like proper people of leisure we lingered there for nearly two hours.

It's Mothers' Day in the U.S., so lots of sweet pictures of friends with kids and moms on my feed. It made me miss At, Nu, and Huck pretty fierce. 

No reading today as it's a Sunday, but I did share this article that blows my mind every time“Tea if by Sea; Chai if by Land.”

Pic: All dressed up with pinkies out, cos we're fancy like that.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Oxford: building a longer table

I absolutely love when I can bring my old life and my current life together. 

Today we went to Oxford and my students got to meet my old profs. Lectures, Q&A, a long pub lunch at a suitably long table... my heart is full. 

A couple of students said they'd like to do graduate school at Oxford/in the U.K. I love being able to help--even a little bit--to nudge open the door from our small bubbles into the world.

What we read: papers by Robert and Will because we were meeting them. And also--thanks NGS--extracts from R.F. Kuang's Babel because it's set in Oxford and is about translation and colonialism.

Pic: Profs and students at The Royal Oak. A colleague brought their adorable 13-year-old doggie to lunch... and I had to quickly blink away tears because I started imagining Scout making it to 13.  I miss everyone at home right now, and I think some part of me thinks he'll be there when I reunite with the rest of the family in ten days.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Bloomsbury: reception

The class got a special tour through Bloomsbury with performances from Mike and Cindy. 

A person who yawned in class when I lectured on T. S. Eliot and E. M. Forster and Virginia Woolf and Rabindranath Tagore is all smiles here. My feelings aren't hurt or anything. 😉

Pic: Mike and Cindy enacting Hilda Doolittle(H.D.)'s dance of adultery.

Max week

It has been a week of/with/at Max.  I'm so relieved Huck and Max seem to be getting along better. They're not cuddling together (yet...