Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

kindness-torture and polite-fights

I was walking back home to dinner (which I wasn't making BTW, it was Nu's Boss Day and we were getting Pokè) when I started getting inundated with texts asking where I was, if I was ok, did I need a ride back, etc. etc. So many texts! Ooof. I wasn't late to dinner or asking for help. Tamils would call this anbu thollai--kindness-torture. (Vaguely related to that other oxymoronic term the East Asian polite-fight.) I probably do this too... but sometimes you just... gotta let people be. (Or perhaps I'd miss it if it went away? IDK!)

Pic: Max and Huck (the fuzzy brown blur by the back door) exploring the yard after Big A completed the first mow of the year (there'll be another one around the start of fall). The plantings around the pond are beginning to come in nicely, but not fast enough for me. 

Saturday, June 08, 2024

contentment, panic, alarm, and a chuckle

Nu headed off to a friend's graduation open house, Big A took off for the Cow Pie Classic (what a weird concatenation of words), and my girlfriends' hang got postponed due to rain. So I contentedly puttered around the house, watered the zillion plants, and cleaned everything.

Then I wandered into a discussion about the rising cases of bird flu and how a bird flu pandemic could make Covid look like "a walk in the park." It made me panic a bit, so I took myself off for a long walk. I think I will order some masks and stockpile some beans and bleach though. Just in case. 

Alarmingly, Noam Chomsky's health is reportedly in sharp decline. Also, the U.S. disguised its participating troops as a humanitarian aid convoy (a war crime) instead of actually pursuing meaningful diplomacy for hostages. Why do we favor this kind of military charlatanism over rapprochement? 

Pic: Our flipsy-flopsy Maxie. This puppy makes me chuckle. He's snuggled into my side, his head and front legs are completely hanging off the sofa, his back legs and paws are torpedoed into our long-suffering Huck. And somehow he's fast asleep in this weird position. 

Friday, June 07, 2024

a longer table

At some point in the early Trump presidency years, I came across the saying: "build a longer table, not a higher wall." It really spoke to me, and I took it to heart. 

An intergenerational mix of loved ones to dinner tonight and we found plenty to celebrate and laugh about. 

(And the prep conveniently kept me too busy to brood. Yes, I know I have a deadline coming up, but I really needed this.)

Pic: We scooted a card table to our regular table and scrounged chairs from other rooms to accommodate all of us. Max and Huck are by my feet.

Thursday, June 06, 2024

life, or something like it

I thought I was sad yesterday. And then I woke up today. How could I forget that sadness is not a place but a condition... and that it can get worse. I was totally unprepared for the waves of sadness washing over me, had forgotten the way my whole body just hurts from the inside...

Big A found me wallowing on the sofa and then we read "What My Dog Taught Me About Mortality" together and I cried and cried and cried. And it felt good. It's like Big A is a sort of doula of sadness.

And then later in the day, I learned more about how our friend MM had died. He was well known, and the family don't want it kept secret. His 80+ mother kept stroking my hand while she said, "It's too late for M, but we can make it so it never happens to anyone else." He died by suicide. Two days before his 60th birthday. 

The visitation was wild--the line snaked out of the building and Big A and I spent over two hours in line waiting to see the family--MM was that beloved in the community. His patients LOVED him. He really did light up the room. He really did make you feel what you had to say was important and deserved his whole attention when you talked to him. He really must have delivered half the babies in this town. 

We'd kind of lost touch when we moved six years ago, and I wish I had been a better friend. L, his 24-year-old, did such a great job greeting visitors in the ante room--joking and hugging people, keeping things light. And then L remembered the last time we'd all been together... around a dinner table... a simpler time, unaware of what the future would hold. We both teared up.

I don't have a good way to end this post. Perhaps someday I'll understand better. Know how to draw a lesson from all of this.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

scenes from a marriage

Big A and I have one major road to cross before we get on the riverwalk. Today, while the pedestrian lights are flashing, the first lane of traffic comes to a complete stop and the second lane is slowing down, so I get in the crosswalk...

But the car in the second lane keeps coming and I sort of freeze in the crosswalk. A pushes me aside as the car screeches to a halt and then he's in the driver's face yelling...

But the driver...

They're looking at me, or actually my legs, and it's so ridiculous I start laughing, and as he joins me, A is laughing too.

I'm glad we had that moment of adrenalin-fueled levity (and also that I didn't die or get dismembered), because we just heard that someone we used to be close to died unexpectedly. A really lovely person, MM was an OB-GYN who found homes for many unwanted and/or orphaned babies. (I used to fake berate Big A for not bringing home "work" babies like our friend MM did.) Anyway, suddenly they're dead and we're headed to their visitation tomorrow and looking into planting some trees as a memorial. I will miss MM, and also MM's kids are the same age as At... surely, it's too soon for it to be our generation's turn? (I know the answer is it's never too soon.)

Pic: The unidentified vine that's growing up the side of the house across the cladding. I think it's so pretty, but I know A is going to want to chop it down.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

the lift we needed

So buoyed by the surprisingly good election results in India! There has been such severe repression of press and academic freedoms over the last ten years under the fundamentalist and egocentric leadership of Prime Minister Modi, and that has been fractured by the secular INDIA coalition winning 232/543 seats today. 

Modi's victory is pyrrhic--he will likely still become the P.M. for a third term. But for the first time in a decade, there is a solid opposition bloc in parliament, and he will not be able to have unconstitutional, non-secular, Islamophobic, crony-capitalism bills passed so easily (or at all).

People who celebrate my Boss Day--I mean, who else but my immediate family--started saying the results were a Boss Day present to me! It was funny and SO sweet to see texts from my sister and At both pop up with identical language simultaneously. The exit polls had been so doctored to benefit the ruling party over the month-long election process, so the results took everyone including pollsters, psephologists, and pundits by surprise. 

What a wonderful glimmer of hope that India will fulfill its destiny as the biggest democracy in terms of more than just numbers. I spent so much of the morning just beaming at my computer screen enjoying the memes and gifs and schadenfreude (they lost in Ayodhya where they destroyed the mosque!) and texting with friends and (the progressive) cousins. So proud of my home state of Tamil Nadu that gave the BJP exactly ZERO wins. So grateful to the students, professors, journalists, farmers, and impoverished millions who protested and resisted Modi's fascism in every way they could.

Pic: I love this quote from journalist Ravish Kumar: "Not all battles are fought for victory. Some are fought to tell the world that someone was there on the battlefield." I think it applies to every battle I'm engaged in. Our fights are, at least in part, so people being oppressed know that other people see their struggles and will fight for them. To know that we/they are not alone. 

Monday, June 03, 2024

preparing for June

            may our rage be bright
            our actions free
            our healing soft

whether our pride waves
all year round or
only in June

              may our love be loud
              our words proud
              our touch safe

when it rains, may we learn 
to be as water 
and rise up 
___________
Pic: Some bunny. We still call them "baila wabbit" because Nu used to as a toddler. 


Sunday, June 02, 2024

the week ahead

Nu's final exams are this week. But they're not feeling well. If they're still feverish tomorrow, I'll have to see if they can take makeup exams later in the week. 

Big A will be back tomorrow! Even better: He can take the summer off from the residents, so he won't have to travel to Milwaukee again until October. He has this whole upcoming week off, and we're so excited to do all our usual things together.

It was At's Boss Day today, but they were in meetings, so we celebrated by having a pizza delivered to them. I have no idea what At's week looks like. I guess I have a grownup kid! 

Things aren't so well in the world, but I've donated and called this week plus studied my Arabic, and made sure I'm paying attention (and drawn attention where necessary). Not sure what else to do at this point.  

My project deadline approaches. It's terrifying. But also, it'll be so freeing to be done with this stage of it. And then I'll be able to work on different things. Yay! 

Super long convos with mom and fave uncle and aunt this weekend. And a couple of girlfriend hangs planned in the coming days. I'm so lucky in all the people I love and who love me back so well.

Pic: Huck popping up to check on me. She's usually curled up at my feet at this point in the day, but tonight, there was some urgent toy-tugging that needed to happen with Max.

Saturday, June 01, 2024

connections

I hear my mother calling
--calling on the phone
(not from the porch)

then she asks for my name
her voice a green flame
of sudden language 

my eyes round as our earth 
I tell her my name 
play her game 

memory, fantasy, truth...
have all gone missing
but aren't missed
_____________________________
Pic: A turtle and some hatchlings sunning themselves on a rock in the Red Cedar. Another long walk by myself

Monday, May 27, 2024

looking back; looking forward

Different people brought different memories of the veterans they wanted to memorialize... JN is working on a book based on their father's letters from WWII; everyone remembered at least one person who'd served; I mentally dedicated today's gathering to the righteous Aaron Bushnell. 

We talked about plans for the summer... "I'll be over here just baby-ing" BOL said. It was easily the most electric announcement of the evening, but the middle schoolers and high schoolers were just as enthusiastic about being done with school and sleeping in. Long after most people had left, EM, SI, and I sat in the dusk as the remaining kids played Cornhole, planning tentative day trips to the beach at Sagatuck and the Art Institute of Chicago.

(Trying hard to remember that hopelessness is a tool of oppression, so celebrating community and the many things we can achieve by organizing.)

Pic: Early in the evening. I forgot to take pictures of our picnic later. BOL's baked mac was a hit, as were JN's lavender and rosewater cookies and my red-white-and-blue berry cake. (I went with strawberries instead of raspberries as they were fresher... Thanks, StephLove, I got the the idea from you!) 

Sunday, May 26, 2024

M.U.M. Day 2024

M.U.M. (MakeUp Mother's Day) was scheduled for today; we celebrated and my heart is so happy and very full.

The kids and I did a ton of work together on the veggie plots, which were overgrown with weeds. We cleared the beds, laid down netting (last time underground animals ate a lot of the veggies), added new soil, and planted peppers, tomatoes, kale, a variety of herbs, and some marigolds.

Nu finished fixing up the small drink tables for the outdoor seating area and then headed off to a birthday swim party while At and I finished up the veggies. We quaffed some lemonade while we admired our hard work and headed indoors for lunch over Atrangi Re, which was on my mind since the songs had come up on my playlist. It's fun (great songs!) and funny (the new pandemic is called "David" and rhymes with "Covid").

And then in the evening, we headed to see Furiosa. At had texted me around 1:00 am to say they were so excited they couldn't sleep--and don't ask me how I know, but it was this movie and not the vegetable gardening they were excited about. 😄 One of my favorite pre-movie moments was clustering in my bathroom with Nu and At putting on "chrome" makeup like the warboys. The movie was solid, and our theater-catered food dinner was ok. After we dropped At off, Nu and I settled in with ice cream and watched Fury Road, which I will love forever. At and I saw Fury Road NINE times IN THE THEATRE, dragging different people along with us each time (Big A, K.B., Nu, my mom) and multiple times at home--it remains to be seen if Furiosa will achieve that same status.

(Mourning Rafah and Scout in my mind throughout this day while celebrating my other kids, harvests, futurity, and hope for a better world.)

Pic: As the kids got to work on the veggie plots this morning. Max's ears!!!

Saturday, May 25, 2024

another six on Saturday

1) If you're watching Bridgerton Season 3--the person playing Lady Stowell (minor character, she's the one signing to her debutante) is someone I went to school with!
2) Out to dinner with friends yesterday and when I was in the minority on something AI-related, EM announced to the table that she was going to be on my side because she's my "Ride or Die." She beat Big A to it. It was epic.
3) I have no more professional tasks left this year--I've written all the letters of recommendation, completed all the committee work, reviewed all the articles... nothing left to do but stop procrastinating and work on my own damn projects!
4) To which end I joined a writing group this week for accountability and dedicated writing hours. I love that (a) its called "Summer Scrivening" (b) we meet only Tues, Weds, and Thurs--in a way that feels civilized and respectful of summer.
5) Speaking of summer... it's almost here! I prepped everything for Monday's Memorial Day picnic, but I forgot the raspberries for the red, white, and blue cake (I have blueberries and cream). I'm consoling myself that it's probably for the best, as raspberries turn so quickly. 
6) Pic: Huck and Max waking up from their nap. Max's waggety tail wakes up first.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

crossed lines

A long chat with my mom who is back home from staying with her newly bereaved sister for a week and everything is Just. So Sad. 

My aunt wants to stay in her house because she has memories (I used to fall asleep watching TV and he would settle my head on his shoulder, she said. SOB). But people are worried about her living on her own. Last year, the family had a collective meltdown when I, a grownass woman, took public transport by myself, so I know a bit about how that feels. 

My aunt is increasingly estranged from her only child who seems to be treating her badly. Plus her in laws and kid seem to be more into how the property is going to be divvied up etc. instead of consoling her.

I also heard my dad CRIED when he tried to console my aunt. This is my mom's BABY sister, and she was eight when my parents got married, so he's been there all along, and he's so sad for her. 

Naturally, this made my mom worry about my dad's heart and health.

And then I got a play by play of several family members sniping at each other, a video of the accident someone recorded and only my mom and her brother have seen, the sweets she took to one of the rituals, plans for the ashes, how amazing my sister has been ordering food for dozens of people at my aunt's, the CONSISTENCY of my uncle's corpse... etc. I hadn't talked to my mom in a week and it was a VERY LONG catch up, is what I'm saying.

My favorite story about my aunt is when she was eight and starry-eyed about her new brother-in-law (my dad) and excited about her oldest sister's wedding in general and managed to insert herself in nearly every wedding photo frame until the photographer had to give her candy and plead with her to allow him to take some pictures of the bridal couple by themselves. I've seen my parents' wedding album; this appears to not be apocryphal at all. (smile)

(And I'm struck again by what is time? That eight-year-old with her crossed arms and sassy stare... how does life take us from there to this sad and lonely place?) 

Pic: This one makes me chuckle ruefully. It's from last week's hike when I wore bike shorts and now I have a tan line halfway up my leg so it looks like I'm walking around in thigh-highs all the time. Is there anything I can do about it?

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.

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. 

hanging in there/hanging by a thread: a week of random things I thought about with A in the hospital

Wednesday, July 10:  Big A's healthcare team doesn't have a clear way forward, so neither do we. But I found the buttons to move his...