Showing posts with label Conversations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conversations. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

ugh edition

Alice Munro died... last week. I only just found out. Although it seems like she hadn't written since the Nobel Prize, I liked knowing she was in this world. I will reread some stories in her honor tonight.

Bluey (my car) has been at the dealership since JANUARY. I'm so used to just plugging in to charge since 2019, and I am so over going to the gas station every few days now to pump gas in this loaner they gave me. Plus, I miss Bluey! 

Our air conditioning isn't working. We were told it wouldn't last the season when we moved in eight years ago, so I should be thankful we got those extra years... and I am. (But still salty we probably have to spend $$$ now.)

U of M pepper-sprayed their students and took down their encampment (Tahrir) after 30 days. It happened at 5:30 am and the organizers sent a text requesting people to show up... but I was asleep. How does a university pepper-spray the students in their care!??

Pic: The solarium smells so good because one jasmine blossomed. Just one. I had to peer closely and follow my nose to find the one true bloom (bottom right). I can't imagine how heady it would be to have the whole bush in flower! (I mean I know how heady it would be from my India days, but I'd be delirious with happiness if I could replicate that here.)

Monday, May 20, 2024

home

I walk this earth 
as though 
I own those skies

in 

daylight and delight
wet, velvety
evening and night 
__________________
Pic: Someone's home and everyone's happy, but Max is the absolute best at showing it! (I love the way he's wrapped his arm around Big A's wrist!)

Sunday, May 19, 2024

dying young

Those poor rabbit babies--Nu and I could feel them trying to stay alive, but they didn't make it to the end of the day. They didn't have a nest and their mama didn't come back for them, and the place we were directed to was closed today. So although we called so many times through the day (and a few other places too), we weren't able to get those poor kits the care they needed. I will see them breathing laboriously as they died of starvation in my head for a long time. 

Death feels like trauma. Especially when it's visited on the young. I mean it wouldn't take 15,000 dead children for me to stop a war--it was already too much at one dead child. 

(I walked to the art fair with friends today and lingered over afternoon tea for hours, but these thoughts weren't far from my head.)

Pic: Judith Lowry's painting titled "Going Home." It's in the section of the Heard Museum about Indian Boarding Schools, and I've been haunted by it since I saw it last week.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Six for Saturday

1) Drama in the morning! Nu and Max discovered some grey, eyeless, blobby newborns by the picnic table on their morning walk. We googled to learn that they were rabbit kits. We're not sure where the mama is, so we did as the article suggested and covered the kits in a tic-tac-toe pattern of sticks. If the pattern remains undisturbed in 24 hours, it means the mama did not/could not return to them and they'll need to be taken to an animal clinic. I hope these babies survive the next 24 hours--they seem so vulnerable and exposed. 

2) Another delivery: the new side gate arrived! Not only is it not made of rotting wood, but it is also bright red and looks so good against our blueberry-colored house. 

3) LB and I had a date in Old Town for some thrifting, boutique browsing, a stroll on the river walk, and brunch. I got some cheeky stickers and had dinner for brunch. 

4) It's the day of the MSU horticultural plant sale. We thought we were too late for it, realized we weren't, turned around, and brought back two cartloads of plants. I planted all afternoon long.

5) The neighbors are starting a community garden at the end of our cul-de-sac. I took some lilies from my MSU horticultural haul. I went in the dress and sandals I wore to brunch with LB, so I just stood there decoratively for a while taking pictures and airily suggesting where people could plant things. LOL.

6) I looked for tickets to the musical Six online to find they were all sold out. And then miraculously BOL called to pass on their tickets as they didn't feel well. But I was bone weary, had just taken a leisurely bath, and was looking forward to eating leftovers and relaxing--so sadly, I decided to pass them up. I wonder if I will kick myself for this decision tomorrow. 

Pic: Neighbors are hard at work while I was on my phone.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Reentry

I think that was a solid vacation--it didn't feel "fake" to me at all. I had a lovely time, meeting people Big A works with was nice, and the kids did a terrific job of caring for themselves while we were away.

I made At breakfast like I used to in the olden times and we had a lovely heart-to-heart before they left to go back to their place. Big A is off as well--to Milwaukee to work with residents. We made sure to get some time today for a long walk, a soak, and yoga before he left.

JG and LB came over for tea. I love when I can get friends from different parts of my life together! I wanted to make them the watermelon tea I'd had at the Heard Museum cafe (green tea and muddled watermelon). But it was a hot day, so I went with watermelon juice instead (it was heavenly with some agave and lemon, I might add a scrape of ginger root next time). 

Nu has a sleepover to look forward to. And also presents from the trip, although they don't know it yet!

Pic: It's all a rush of green and water back here. At the Red Cedar rapids with Big A.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

mountain peak and a domestic peek

Another early morning hike. The peak was approx 2500 feet above sea level, with the last couple of turns like corkscrews. I caught sight of the steep pitch of the mountain and feared for my tender body slipping and crashing into boulders and cacti. I had a small panic attack, and then screwed my courage to the sticking place and carried on until I made it to the top. Big A was the perfect partner--promising to pick a careful path and offering to physically hold my hand but not pushing or coaxing me into doing it. It was cool and drizzly and spectacular when I got to the top.

We stopped at Del Taco (BEST DONUT BITES EVER) and then returned to our hotel room to shower, nap, and get to the airport for the trip home. 

When we got home, we opened the door to see all the sibs eating takeout and just hanging out together. It was a lovely tableau and a peek into how well "sibs' week" had gone.

Pic: From the top of Two-Bit Trail in the Phoenix Mountains this morning.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

butte and beauty

We started the day with a sunrise hike in Papago Park and then I delivered Big A to his conference and took off for The Heard Museum of American Indian Art. 

The museum was magnificent. An exhibition called Sky-Dome--an immersive video experience of the wonder of nature sights and sounds moved me to tears even as my breath calmed. Despite our climate crisis and ongoing geopolitical strife, our world is just so, so, so beautiful. Why can't we just stop doing shitty things to each other? 

The exhibit on Indian Boarding Schools was another heartbreaker. Also a heartbreaker--the prices in the museum shop: they had beautiful, handmade jewelry that was out of my budget for the day. (I didn't need it anyhow.) 

Pic: Butte formations at Papago Park, We clambered up all the way to that hole in the rock, which is called... wait for it... "Hole in the Rock." No, really.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

I guess we're not in Michigan anymore

Pic: A very different terrain from our usual hikes. It was uphill all the way (and somehow both ways) at the South Mountain trails today. 

My first saguaro in the wild--they had blooms on their tippy-tips! We also saw lots of hummingbirds, lizards, and quail. There were many snake holes, but I was lucky enough not to see any snakes. 

Big A, coming off a spate of several night shifts and never a fan of extreme heat, wilted a bit. But I was still hopping from boulder to boulder like a baby goat and jabbering away till the very end. We were running a bit low on water, so I even saved my share of the water for him. 

And at dinner, I polished off my meal and a significant portion of his. I feel like such a champ.

Monday, May 13, 2024

BRB: Fake Vacation

Big A is in Phoenix, AZ this week for a conference, and I'm tagging along for the triple-degree temps, museum-ing, hiking, and checking a state off my list of places to go. 

Big A calls this a "fake vacation," but I'll take it!

Many people on our flight were also headed to the conference and Big A quipped that it would be a good flight to have a medical emergency on because of all the E.R. docs on it. I disagree: I think it would be good not to have any medical emergencies on a flight. Ha. 

Pic: The "ussie" we sent from the plane to reassure the kids we really were getting out of their hair. 

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Mother's Day mess: It's a fine one, don't worry!

MIL was in town, so we had a big Mother's Day brunch like we used to have when we lived in Yellow Springs. I dug up some Lily of the Valley (just going bonkers in our front yard) for some pretty arrangements, baked spice cupcakes with lavender and rose petal frosting, and put together a row of salads people could nosh on by themselves or fold into something from the bread basket. 

(When I was planning this, I thought I'd have to make a trip to the store because we were nearly out of croissants, but then I put together an assortment of bread from the bread bin--bagels, sourdough, 21-seed--along with the last of the croissants and saved myself a trip. Plus it looked fancier. Plus things that needed to get eaten got eaten.)

I spent a lot of time at Scout's memorial (Scout was the OG mama's baby), finished a ton of garden maintenance, got a long soak, read for a couple of hours, chatted to post-shift Big A, and played sounding board to Nu (yes--it would be nice to make a get-well-soon card for your friend).

All that was really nice. But as I'd admitted when I was out with my girlfriends on Thursday, I was sad. At had told me earlier this week--after I'd asked a few times when to expect them on Mother's Day--that they'd be in Chicago to take in a concert. As I lamented to my girlfriends, it's on the calendar (the family one too) and I'd have been totally ok with it if At had just told me themselves ahead of time or if it were a trip for work or something. OR, the girlfriends said--if At had said they were going to attend a concert, but had made plans to celebrate with me another day. Ok, that too. 

Most of all, I disliked feeling like I was being high-maintenance or precious about Mother's Day--our plans are simple, usually we just spend time together in the garden. As it happened, At stopped by after the concert for a quick visit with a card detailing an elaborate plan for the 24th. It was as if my girlfriends had manifested this nice turn of events for me! So we have a M.U.M. Day (Make-Up Mother's Day) and yes, this too is something we've done before

Also: At said the concert sucked. 

Also: Don't even ask about Nu.

Pic: An "ussie" of me with the kids this evening: Huck, Max, At, and Nu on the other side of me.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

drop by drop


My baby uncle, my mom's youngest sister's husband, was named for King Sibi who was willing to sacrifice his life for a dove. As a kid, I always imagined my uncle was kind.  

And he was. 

One of my earliest memories of him is as a newlywed trying to impress his new niblings (me and my cousins) with a party trick he'd learned at college. The objective was to drop a coin into a glass filled to the brim without spilling any water. 

My uncle would dip the coin into the glass, but then quickly withdraw it as if too nervous to actually let it go. He did this about four or five times and then finally released the coin into the water, where it sank without displacing a single drop of water. 

The "trick" was that every time he dipped the coin into the glass, he was removing a drop or two of water when he withdrew it--after doing this enough times, it became safe to release the coin because the glass was no longer as full. I think of this as the drop-by-drop method (like Anne Lamott's bird-by-bird, or AA's one day at a time)... an exercise in chipping things away through small and steady measures. 

My sister told me that our baby uncle died in a road accident today. The narrative arc between that newlywed trying to impress a gaggle of new niblings and today's news of dismemberment by an 18-wheeler makes no sense. It doesn't even seem real.

Friday, May 10, 2024

a feast

There is a strange loneliness that descends at the end of a semester. There are all the goodbyes of the last day of class, commencement, putting various organizations into dormancy... and then, the solitary grading, and then the suddenly empty days. 

I hadn't realized I'd been missing people until the happiness of a full table at dinner tonight (CF is here for the weekend as are MIL+husband+puppy). 

I'm currently reading a book by a Persian-American (Daniel Nayeri's Everything Sad is Untrue) so I just threw a lot of Persian flavors into everything I made--preserved lemons and carrot pickle in with the chicken; Za'atar into the roast potatoes, handfuls of pistachio, rose petals, and cardamom into the cake mix!

My people were a feast for sore eyes! It was like a feast after famine! A love feast! A moveable feast!

Pic: The Red Cedar from the Eastward Walking Bridge with CF this afternoon. Sadly, this is not a picture of the amazing Aurora Borealis that played out across our skies while I was taking a nap with Huck and Max.

Thursday, May 09, 2024

it's old and faded now

Although we always felt some pity for her by that point in our visit 
when our Dorakanti grandmother would lament that though she'd yearned for daughters 
all her life, all she had been given were six sons 
and that was why she loved her granddaughters so much
my sister and I would remain stiff and unbending. 

We had heard that Dorakanti grandmother had been mean to our mother 
when she was a new daughter-in-law 
and that made her eternally unpleasant in our eyes. 

We were stiff as scarecrows inside Dorakanti grandmother’s embrace
stiff and unfriendly to the children from next door summoned to play with us
and our interactions with the special snacks made for us were cursory.

We paid attention when it was story time, but only silently
and only because it was dark and no one could see our eyes stirring to the story 
the punctuating “umms,” which were our duty as audience, needlessly parsimonious and slow.

Dorakanti grandmother’s stories were strange in that they never began with a “once upon a time.”
They all began, “in a place,” “in a village,” “in a town.” 
It was as if these stories where the prince fell in love with the princess 
after chancing upon just one filament of her preternaturally long and fragrant hair 
or where the young prince battled tigers to impress his mother
--as if these stupid, unnatural things had happened just a few weeks before we came to visit.

And at the end of the story when the prince married the princess 
or the young prince was crowned, there would be a big celebration 
and grandmother would launch her punch line:
“That was when they presented me with this sari,” she would say, 
holding her sari out for us to touch, hoping we would scoot closer to her. 
It’s old and faded now, but it was rich and shiny when they gave it to me.” 
And we’d reach for her sari politely enough, 
even knowing that our fingers would be snatched up and kissed, 
but we’d remain curled up around ourselves, my sister‘s hand in mine.

And although I'd will myself to fall asleep quickly
knowing dad would take us home the next day
I'd wake as grandmother stroked our limbs before she left the room
stretching each of our legs in the half darkness to their furthest length 
so we'd "grow tall in our sleep" and not take after her.

________________
Pic: Max getting his zoomies out. All I have to say to this puppy I love so much is "I'm going to CATCH you, Maxie!" That's it, he'll play keep-away for the next five minutes. Scout played this way too, so I enjoy this on so many levels.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

headway(s)

1) They now know me by name at Hammond Farms where I get rocks and pebbles for the pond. We've been getting comfortable: The first day I showed up in a dress, then it was pants, then sweats, then shorts...  on my most recent trip, I went in my ratty back brace. The people who work there--especially the women--are amazing.

 2) This poem got accepted for publication in an academic volume. The editor suggested changing "assignment" to "answer" in the penultimate line for clarity, and I agree. They liked how my persona's responses are reduced to the merely parenthetical in the poem. 

3) There's another happy ending too. After I wrote the poem, I set my hurt feelings aside to focus on continuing to do what I'm supposed to do--help the student learn. We had a few individual sessions, the student began to enjoy the readings, refined their ideas, improved their writing, and by the end of the semester, was repeatedly thanking me in class meetings. I learned too; I'm now inclined to think that their initial snipe came from awkwardness more than malice. 

4) Pic: I've been having better luck relaxing with my morning tea on this side of the tea garden, without getting distracted by tasks. The light started off gray and moody, but it soon turned into a brilliant and gloriously sunshiny day later. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Ope--not what it seems

I woke up before my alarm went off this morning, glanced through the cloudy bedroom windows, and saw Max standing still in the middle of the pond. I dashed to the window, and it took me a few seconds to recompute. It wasn't Max. It was the work gloves I'd perched on top of the barrow, which looked like my puppy looking right at me--at least as I was opening my eyes after two hours of sleep.

Also: I was called in for an important meeting at work today and Big A was convinced that I was going to be offered a promotion. Umm. No. I was called in so I could be informed that someone else was getting a promotion. It's all good. This way, I don't have to do budgets, so we all win. 

Pic: I can still see how I mistook my gloves for Max, and it takes me back to that moment of waking up in a panic and my self-deprecatory chuckles soon after. It was nice to be so thoroughly woken up and in a good mood so early in the day. 

Monday, May 06, 2024

weirdness, madness, and freaking the eff out

Weird: I thought I'd gotten poison ivy on myself from digging up myrtle to transplant. I could feel the blisters forming because I saw those pointy leaves in clusters of five... until I remembered the rhyme was "leaves of three/let them be" and realized I was ok...  and wouldn't you know it, the blistering sensation went away by itself. What a psychosomatic weirdo. 

Mad: I've felt so strange all day with the news from Rafah. Online acquaintances have basically been saying goodbye because there is nowhere to go--this is where they were told to go to be safe! People in power (Egypt, Qatar, USA, Israel) in the meantime are offering/accepting/rejecting ceasefire terms. The dissonance is so huge. I'm grateful for Macklemore's release of their single, "Hind's Hallfor amplifying the issue. Is it great art? Is it even hiphop? But I ain't mad about that.

Pic: Freaking Out: Max and Huck in a prelude to what Big A calls "face-fighting" where they growl and groan and mouth each other's faces. They're playing--sometimes with toys--and they never clamp down or bite, but it freaks me out every time. 

Saturday, May 04, 2024

Celebrating

Still feels unreal that At is now a 25-year-old, but we made it official with birthday biriyani, presents, and cake today. I think about all the versions of At and how much I love them all.

My love didn't falter even when At made us watch an Orson Welles documentary called Fake (I think! It had its moments, but I was so tired from continually being on my feet--for at least 12 hours by Big A's estimate--I had to frequently be nudged awake.)

Pic: At wearing some birthday presents (red rain jacket, silver hoops) and taking a bow before blowing out birthday candles. Nu, Big A, Max, and Huck are in there at varying levels of visibility too.

Thursday, May 02, 2024

cheers to 25 years

It's At's birthday and she turns 25! TWENTY FIVE! I can't believe my baby is that old (nearly 30, my mom said rounding up in her characteristically comic way last month, and we've all been quoting it to At all the time since). And what's more, I can't believe I've been a parent for that long. Goodness! Where does time go?

At is out with friends today (I had a brief and raucous phone call), so we'll celebrate at home on Saturday. 

In the meantime, I celebrated JG's return from her 12-week trip to Costa Rica and Panama (she brought me gifts!), LB's birthday (I brought her gifts!), the Child Advocacy Art exhibition opening (where I met so many lovely people who care about advocating for children), and (after a quick dinner with Nu, Huck, Max, and Big A) ended the day at a wonderful guest performance by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra with EM at the Wharton. The Mozart was comfortingly sublime and the Piazolla version of Vivaldi--which I'd not heard before--was energetically otherworldly. 

Walking home through dark and empty streets after the concert with the music still in my head and the smell of lilacs in the air, I felt quite drunk with contentment.

Pic: Child Advocacy Art Exhibition with JG, MZ, RM, TV, NP, and more.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

standing in beauty

I saw the most amazing early morning skies over the Maple River as I headed to work today, and had a feeling it would be the harbinger of a glorious day.

Actually... nothing in the day itself topped that glimpse of sunbeams breaking through the clouds and glancing off the water. That moment of beauty (what the kids and I used to call taking a "deep breath of beauty" when we made that trip daily) was in itself what made the day special.

And in fact, there were two pieces of disturbing news today.

First: colleague Sami Schalk who describes themselves as "a Black, queer, disabled professor" was thrown to the ground, choked, and had their dress nearly ripped off by the police as they were supporting their students at U-W Madison. Horrifying but inspiring. I much prefer Sami's earlier moment of renown, also inspiring, which was twerking on stage with Lizzo! (Article about her pleasure and disability studies activism here.)

And then there was news that Paul Auster had died. I came close to meeting him a couple of times when we lived in NJ, but didn't. I did meet tons of English grad students in the early part of this century who wanted to live in Brooklyn because he did though. He was a veteran of the 1968 protests at Columbia University, so there is some resonance with the events of this week. I love when he said, "The novel is the only place where two strangers can meet on terms of absolute intimacy." That the two strangers he had in mind were the writer and the reader, is just so perfect.

Pic: Early morning skies over the Maple River. I'm not a fan of the term "crepuscular rays," but they are so beautiful! I'd find ways to stand in their beams when I was a kid and feel like I'd been touched by the sky's blessings.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Today I found...

1) Inside, I've been finding it really hot, so we had to bring up the electric fans from the basement early this year. 

2) In my email, I found a contract for an article accepted to an anthology--this has been years in the making!

3) In my closet, I found my favorite skirt from before we were married. It's faded now, but I wear it now and then because Big A once told me he liked it a lot. 

4) On my body, I've been finding bruises up and down my legs. Today I realized it's because I've been shoveling a lot of stuff in the garden this week, and I've been bracing the shovel's handle against my body as I use my body weight to budge things. I've got to stop doing this.

5) On the news, I found the NYPD's actions on the Columbia and CUNY campuses brutal and the footage terrifying. This is under the watch of a Dem mayor, governor, and president, so I'm not sure what new lows the November elections will bring.

6) Pic: In our front yard, I found some morels this morning in the woodsy patch. They usually pop up in May (I mean tomorrow is May, but still), so this is technically the earliest. I don't like being in the woods by myself, so although I could see our front door (literally), I kept looking around to reassure myself there were no surprise creatures hiding. I'm such a city mouse!

ugh edition

Alice Munro died... last week. I only just found out. Although it seems like she hadn't written since the Nobel Prize, I liked knowing s...