Showing posts with label Projects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Projects. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

things come into my life

I almost got into the car so I could drive to Toronto and hug someone I've never met. 

I got to know Anita, a jewelry designer-labor organizer-prof on an online forum many, many years ago. Yesterday, I opened up my mail to find they'd sent me some exquisite watermelon pins they had made to support Gaza. Their sweet card said how they've enjoyed watching me and my kids grow over the years on FB.

I've wanted watermelon merch for a few months now, but always felt like that sort of discretionary spending could be better used as an actual donation to Gaza--so this is extra perfect. I'm so moved by Anita's generosity (talent, time, effort, material, and more), and I'm so grateful there are people like Anita in our world; someday, I hope to be one of them.

And then my colleague-friends KC and SS who'd traveled to Morocco brought me back a beautiful silk scarf patterned with vines and hamsas. "It was screaming your name," KC said, which made me laugh. They had a lot of students to care for while there, so I'm surprised and touched they thought of me.

Pic: My new scarf and pins. These beautiful things and the kindnesses they represent mean so much.

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!) 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024


for LVK

Of summer plans, my friend says 
"Maybe we can make it a point 
to get arrested for a good cause."
I demur for I fear brute hands on 
my body--but eff it--ok, I'd do it
it would be "good trouble"

my body is but a prayer; my hopes only loud songs
flowing to the river, its hairline starting summer
I know it would be to follow love
and not the law--to hold the hands 
of those beloved children again, 
to fold food and kindness 
and safety into them--
it would be good
Pic: Wild Phlox all the way to the river in LB's backyard. 
We walked along the river for a long while.

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 used chemical substances on 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. Many of the Jewish Voices for Peace students are now in hospital with chemical burns. How can a university attack 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.)

Wednesday, May 08, 2024


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. 

Sunday, May 05, 2024

It's beginning to feel a lot like... Spring!

A full weekend! 

Lots of people: foraged for more morels with work friend TR; met Baby R with the whole gang of girlfriends today at lunch; celebrated At yesterday with the whole fam at dinner; chatted with LB, SM, JB, And JA at separate times when they stopped by; and got lots of FaceTime and phone-calls in as well.

Lots of yardwork: Big A and I worked for hours on the pond yesterday and today and are so close to closer being done. We both found the perfect place to find stone edging--Big A online and me from driving past the place on my way to work--and... it turned out to be the same place! I like working with Big A on this project. I guess we could have hired someone to do this work, but it was spend-y + I like that this way I will always remember us creating it together every time I catch a glimpse of it.

Pic: The backyard looks so green. I'm going to treat myself to a visit to the plant store tomorrow!

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.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

a night different from others: four answers to questions unasked

1) The MSU Gaza solidarity encampment moved indoors a couple of times yesterday because of storms but was back outside today. Morale is high. Lots of arts and crafts and some teach-ins about in-state weapons manufacturers. The university authorities have (wisely? cynically?) allowed the encampment to go on until Monday in the hope that many students will go home after graduation weekend. 

2) On Engie's recommendation, I'm reading Elizabeth Moon's Remnant Population and it made me want to reread Amitav Ghosh's The Nutmeg's Curse because of all the references to terraforming, so I am. Both books really pack a punch individually and in tandem. 

3) I've made a couple of shifts with writing projects that have helped. Firstly, instead of thinking I "have to..." I'm framing things as "I get to..." It makes a big difference whether I think "I have to finish my context notes and they're yet another actionable item on my list..." versus "My poems got accepted, I get to finish these context notes, yay!" Secondly, I'm trying to remember editors exist. Instead of obsessing over every possible nuance, I'm just going to turn things in and let the editors let me know if they want me to make changes. (Haven't actually done this yet; famous last words.)

4) Pic: Passover seder at our friends' tonight; Nu was relieved not to be the youngest at the table responsible for asking "the four questions."

Friday, April 19, 2024

the kids are better than alright

I love how the the student protests on Columbia University's west lawn have grown despite the 100 arrests yesterday. I'm so moved by their celebrations of both Shabbat and Jumma this evening and exhilarated by the way the repression by school authorities is inspiring students on other campuses (UNC, Boston, CUNY, Yale, Princeton, Harvard, OU) to protest in solidarity.

Our own At is away in Chicago as an invited speaker at the Labor Notes conference. One panel is about "building a multigenerational movement for democratic unionism" and another is on "rebuilding the worker movement" by "salting" from the inside. At the Labor Notes conference, two anti-genocide protestors were arrested and then "de-arrested" after other protestors stood around the police vehicle and chanted for over two hours.

Pic: In the meantime, I attended (boo!) a fairly corporate event, but it was necessary and they were earnest and made me this personalized charcuterie board. (I don't eat salami (if that's what it is), but everything else was delicious.)

Saturday, April 13, 2024

coming along

After we dug a bigger pond in December, the weather got wintry, so we didn't get to work on it. But yesterday, we wrestled the pond liner (it weighed over 300 pounds!) into place and started filling the pond.

Today I spent nearly eight hours pulling the liner tight and anchoring it with dirt. This involved digging a trench alongside the outer wall, lifting and folding the liner, and then shoveling the dirt tight around it. I counted it as today's workout. 

Nu was with friends and Big A is in Milwaukee, so it was just Huckie, Max, and me. But it was SUCH A LOVELY DAY, it felt like a blessing to be outside.

It still looks pretty messy and I still have to find a way to edge it so the pond liner is hidden under more natural elements. Sometimes garden projects take years to look pretty, but I'm not known for my patience.

Pic: The sun smiling on my labors. I love the heart-like indent at the top of the pond. MSU dorms in the distance.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

so very sari

I've been meaning to wear more saris to work, but it is almost always too cold during the teaching year in Michigan. But today was Honors Day, and I wanted to honor all the hard work by students by dressing up for their presentations + had to judge a set of awards + attend a child advocacy event + head to the fancy awards dinner later. (AND IT'S ALSO MY BOSS DAY!) 

So a sari it was.

Five yards of chiffon held together by some optimistic pleating-tucking into a petticoat, two safety pins, and prayers. It all held together great, but I did have to wake Big A up to button the back of my blouse for me. I have no idea how anyone could do that without help. 

Pic: My sweet colleague CP took a full-length pic of me in my office, crouching on the floor to "make me look taller." 💗 The sari and blouse came from my sweet aunt when we were in Bangalore last year. I may or may not have posted this on the secret Skirtathon page Sarah mentioned.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

a day to be proud...

1) of my WGS students who set up 25 wonderful interactive booths to discuss subjects as varied as the female gaze in films, non-binary erasure, abortion access in MI, and mental health for athletes. At this point, all I had to do was backstage manage with tape and pens and flyers and fruit snacks.

2) of Nu who went out with friends for the second day in a row after mentioning their renewed depression. Knowing they understand friends can make you feel better and that they have friends to draw on and the energy to make plans, feels like progress. 

Pic: Students making me SO proud. We were all buzzing with that energy that comes from a performance even as we took the displays down. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

"smile/what's the use of crying"

It wasn't always cozy and fuzzy, but I felt connected in human ways today:

gave Big A a (long overdue) dressing down... and then later we took a walk and an ussie...

apologized for being/seeming rushed to two students + three friends...

made plans with my girlfriend group + one friend + two colleagues...

reached out to two people who've been uncharacteristically quiet...

pushed through the daily banter to check in for real on my India fam...

Nu was so quiet at dinner time, and while my first instinct was that they were being surly, I kept on with open-ended questions to hear that they've been depressed again. And in a flash of clarity: "it comes and goes, Mama." :/ I would happily take their pain...

Pic: A sweet, sweet note referring to last week's presentation I found at my office door this morning. There are students here whose kind words feel like a commendation. Also, I received an email about being nominated for a state-wide teaching award. I suspect the nomination came from another kind student... and in perfect consonance, at the end of the workday, someone was singing the praises of this student as a student-teacher. How much each of us hurts... how hard we try to be there for each other...  I'm so grateful for the people I know in this life.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

seeing red

Lysne Beckwith Tait, founder of Helping Women Period, presented to my WGS students today. She also set up a "menstrual products petting zoo" in class for people to check out. As she rightly pointed out, when menstrual cups, discs, and undies are in packaging, it is difficult to figure out if one would be comfortable using them.

I absolutely love the story of the growth of the organization--it started out after a conversation with friends and now influences, advocates, and educates--it was instrumental in repealing our tampon tax last year, for instance. Lysne's book Instigator: Creating Change Without Being the Loudest Voice in the Room comes out later this year, and I can't wait!

Pic: Saying goodbye to Lysne in the parking lot. Of course, the Helping Women Period van is red. Mid-cycle red.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

spring forward anyway

We woke up to snow on the ground, but it's Spring in my heart anyway.

Big A wimped out because it was cold and windy, but I took a long walk in the snow anyway.

It's too early to start the garden like I want to, but I started an array of herbs in planters indoors anyway.

Pic: Basil, thyme, rosemary, and mint growing in the solarium upstairs (the blue and red pots). Our quirky old house has lots of inconveniences, but its passive solar design means there's lots of light. I might as well use it for something good.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

a pedestrian diagnosis

To keep this simple: Neither of my walking companions have been available recently--L has been away in Oregon all month long and Big A's work schedule is jam-packed. 

I haven't been getting out much without them, and both the lack of walks and companionship are doing a number on my brain.

I'm glad I figured that out... now to make the time to take myself out for regular walks.

Pic: I took a book and hung out on the banks of the Red Cedar today. It was such a mild and lovely day.

Monday, September 25, 2023

a bridge so near

They've positioned the walking bridge across the Red Cedar. Never have I ever been so invested in a construction project! There are several walking bridges on the riverwalk towards Spartan Stadium, but this is the first one east of campus and right across from our street. They're calling it a "river trail expansion" and it would let us walk/bike all the way to Lake Lansing.

Did I say "invested"? I meant excited. I dragged Big A over to see it all up close at the end of our walk. And he kept warning me not to touch it as if I was a toddler with no self control. 

As if. 

Also: Super happy about the successful end to the WGA strike and fingers crossed for the SAG people. I'm on tenterhooks about the UAW strike; I've been dipping into Chapter 13 of The People's History for inspiration and optimism.
Pic: The new walking/bike path this afternoon after workers had left for the day.

Monday, September 18, 2023


L told me they were building a bike and walking path along the river away from MSU and across from their house at the beginning of the summer. 

And I've loved watching the various little earthmovers and pavers work on this project for a while. 

It's been mostly done for a while now except for the bridge... and this week Big A and I noticed that they have a bridge ready to go. It looks like all they have to do is use that big red crane to position the bridge to span the river. 

Also: It occurred to me yesterday that not spending as much time with L as I usually do (our individual travel plans and illness patterns and work schedules have been bonkers) may also be impacting my sense of wellbeing...  L is the absolute best.

Pic: Construction on the east Red Cedar riverwalk project underway.

Saturday, September 16, 2023


I needed something. I can't be Mx. Congeniality at work, earth + den mother at home and then all mopey all the time on my own time. 

So as of today I have a new book (Zadie Smith's The Fraud), a new show (Sweet, Kaaram, Coffee), and a new language on DuoLingo (French, which I took last in high school) to help me reset my spate of mopey days. 

Big A is taking a pre-work nap after our lovely meal with AH and SD and Nu is off to movie night at a friend's. I have the house to myself for the first time in what seems forever to cuddle with Huck and Max and kindle something new to get me out of my rut. 

Pic: Max + the firewood and kindling we got out of the two trees that fell into our backyard in last month's storm. When life gives you downed trees, make firewood... or something like that.

Things I rescued today:

* a groundhog. Max is swift and silent when he gives chase. Nothing but the jingle of his tags gives him away. I rescued the groundhog by r...