Showing posts with label Puppies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Puppies. Show all posts

Monday, December 04, 2023

Five-year-old me

What would my childhood self think about grownup me? 

I've been thinking about it since Nance mentioned that she keeps her kindergarten picture on her dresser to remind her "of the little girl who wanted to be a teacher and a mom. I look at her often and think about how so many of her dreams came true and then some. It helps me stay grateful."

I'm five in this picture, and my favorite thing was to line up my sister, our ayah, and the dolls in my playroom to play school--with me as the teacher. So I think five-year-old me would be thrilled that I grew up to be a teacher and tickled to know I have kids and puppies of my own--I think they'd find that part really hilarious. Back then, the expectation to be "good" was intense--I wonder what five-year-old me would think of my daily quest to be a better person, to keep learning... When I was little, I was always afraid of being orphaned (I read too much even back then), so I wish I'd known my parents would know their grandkids...

Like Nance, I too am grateful that so many of my dreams have come true--even dreams I did not yet know to have for myself. I can see myself at ten or eleven lying on the terrace looking up at planes and wondering (not even wishing, really) *if* I would have a job, if I would fly on a plane (only my parents had flown at this point), and if anyone would fall in love with me. 

Pic: An old B&W portrait of my family (dad, sis, mom, me). I remember so clearly that my dress was a very pale pink and white with a soft collar and square white buttons with a pink inlay; my sister's dress was a hand-me-down from me, it had been a favorite until I grew out of it--I called it the "peacock frock" because it cascaded in overlapping "feathers" and had a deep blue embroidered motif on each. I'm pretty sure my mom's organza sari is orange with white polka dots. When the square belt buckle (buttons and buckle were all purely decorative) on my dress fell off, I used it as a tool at my art table to scrape excess crayon off the paper and even out the colors. I wore a school uniform to school, and "play" clothes at home; I had a very small collection of "fancy" clothes to wear to parties, the club, and so on and I remember most of them quite fondly. My sister was wearing a corrective leg brace at that point, which is why my parents are holding her hands on either side. No one is holding my hand... I wonder what I seem so pleased about... Wow. I did not expect to remember so much. And look at my HAIRY forehead!! lol

Sunday, December 03, 2023

outtake/best take

We got the tree up (and by "we," I mean At and Nu) and tried to take a picture for the holiday card.
We usually take a video and then pick a frame or two, but it proved impossible yesterday. You can't even tell that Big A and I are wearing pajamas that match the kids!

I hope you can tell we're all wearing Christmas-tree hats. Although it took me a minute or two to understand why everyone was shying away from the "white, pointy hat." :D 

Pic: Not the best frame, but I think it represents everyone trying to hold it together the best.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

"it's that little souvenir of a terrible year/which makes my eyes feel sore"

I thought I was done collecting snow globes... 

But I was at the store getting personal hygiene products for my students' community service project and this snow globe called out to me. Scout loved Christmas... and I like how this one makes it as though Scout is getting a visit with Santa this year too.

It plays "We wish you a merry Christmas" and I never wind it up all the way, so it plays really slowly and sounds super sad. Like those songs which do double duty with an upbeat happy version and a slower sad version. "Que sera, sera" in The Man Who Knew Too Much is the only example I can think of right now... It's a really big thing in Bollywood films, something the kids love to parody with basically any song. 


It's the first Christmassy thing I've set out this year.

(Big A and I still tear up every day/every other day when we talk about Scout, who took so much of my heart with him. Does anyone have the timeline for when things will get better?)

Pic: Inside a snow globe with Scout and Santa. Wish I could be in there. #It'sMyBlogAndI'llBeMaudlinIfIWantTo
The title is from one of my favorite nostalgic songs from the 90s--The Sundays' "Here's Where the Story Ends." 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

snake sandwiches and puppy scuffles

I guess today continues the theme of elementary-school-level hijinks from yesterday. 

One of my fellow members (on the search committee to hire a biologist at the college) noticed that my eyes got wider and wider the longer the conversation about "arboreal garter snakes" went on. 

They kindly shared this information with the rest of the committee. 

Then the "jokes" started. What do those snakes eat? Well, they don't know about Maya yet. What are we ordering for dinner tomorrow? How about some snake sandwiches? And so on and so on. I'm glad I brought some levity to a work meeting that went on until past 7 pm. 

Snake sandwiches. Shudder.

Pic: (1) Max, (2) a previously-loved stuffie now being used as a chew/tug toy, (3) Huck, and (4) Big A on the floor by my feet as I graded. I can barely tell where Huck ends and the stuffie begins.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

“The Drifting”

I was so sad today to learn that Lynn Rather, a wonderful human and poet, has passed on to another plane. I met Lynn only once--we were billed together at a reading--but she made a strong impression of strength, sass, and cigarette smoke. AK and DD were good friends with her and with her at the end.

from “The Drifting” by Lynn Rather

on nights like this I think
I have not loved enough,
I have not given as much as I could.

snow blows and drifts across fields.
that is what it does.

the wind roars and then is gone.
that is what it does.

they give themselves utterly, and move on.
Pic: The pretty, pretty snow persisted today. I took this from an upstairs window--I'd just stepped out of my room, and my heart lifted on seeing Nu and Max playing outside.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

"Oops, I did it again!"

I just finished Deepa Varadarajan's Late Bloomers the book Nicole inadvertently recommended. It's not terrific, but it is about South Indians in the U.S., and I kept reading out of curiosity.  It's about people in their 50s dating other people after having been married to each other for 30+ years.

Coincidentally, an older colleague of Big A's is going through a divorce at 60+ and I was surprised to hear Big A say that perhaps after 60 people should just stay put in their relationships. I find that disturbing--surely people should be free to start over at any point in their lives? Why should someone live another 30 potential years with someone they don't like?

And then, oops! Straight on the heels of finishing one book about South Indians, I started Abraham Verghese's Covenant of Water and am loving the intensely South Indian location and poetics of it all. There was a moment where a character helps a vendor lift the wicker basket off their head and land it on the ground--and that gesture seemed to tug at some memory of seeing that... in a movie? My grandmother's house? I think the writing is beautiful and the story compelling... but honestly, maybe I like it so much because there are flashes of the city I grew up in? And there's an elephant! What more could I want?

Pic: Big A, Huck (lounging near me), and Max (longing for me). 

Friday, November 24, 2023

And now... leftovers

Things I forgot (or was too tired) to say yesterday.

* There were no in-laws or international students yesterday, and I really missed the expansiveness they usually bring to the table.

* My awesome MIL was the one who told me that I should let people help with the meal if I wanted them to feel at home, and it's very good advice.

* Nu made the biscuits this year and they were terrific--I'd bungled them last year.

* A pinch of turmeric in the pumpkin gravy and regular gravy gave them some extra color and antioxidants. 

* Nu decided to go with a beige palette for dinner--just biscuits, mashed potatoes, stuffing, chicken, gravy. No cranberry sauce, pumpkin gravy, roasted root veggies, or lemon-dressed salad for my baby, apparently. I insist everyone eats their five colors every day, so occasional beige meals are ok. I guess?

* At was so late getting here although they'd promised to arrive early. I fumed for a while, but when I saw At getting out of the Uber (linked to the family credit card) over three hours after texting "OMW," my annoyance somehow melted. I raced towards the car yelling "pumpkin emergency! pumpkin emergency!" At was so bewildered! It was hilarious and it totally made up for everything. I mean... no one wins when you're mad at a kid, anyway.

* We watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special and a charming 2017 movie I Don't Feel at Home in this World Anymore (recommended, but has flashes of unsettling violence).

*Huck showed Max, whose first Thanksgiving this was, all the ropes on where to position themselves for the best treats and whipped cream licks. We missed Scout--who showed up on multiple So-Thankful-For sheets. We're going to miss Scout extra hard on Christmas because that puppy liked to go BONKERS on Christmas Day.

Pic: Colorful leftovers from yesterday's feast is what's for dinner today.  Pies, not one of which I made, are further down the counter. (And I didn't realize Big A and his computer are kind of photobombing a bit too.)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

chuffed + stuffed at Thanksgiving

I am so thankful for family, friends, and community this year. 

And I'm feeling like a Thanksgiving pro today. After years of hosting, I have a stable menu that pleases and serves everyone. Fifteen years ago, when I started hosting, I'd be in such a dither about what to make--now I know exactly what I'm making and how long it will take. 

In fact, around 11, I realized I was a bit ahead of schedule and that I should save some tasks for when people came around so they could feel like they'd helped with the meal too, so I hit pause. This means that I was able to sneak in a walk and a soak despite the busyness of the morning. Also, I was able to pull all of meal prep off with nary a cut or a burn. 

I didn't get enough pictures, what with orchestrating the ovens, trying to dissuade Nu from cheerfully and charmingly trying to cheat at every Thanksgiving game, and Max going bonkers with first Thanksgiving energy.

Pic: My place setting with the hand-turkey Nu and At made over a decade ago...

Tuesday, November 21, 2023


Things I control: My inbox is at zero, I've graded and sent feedback on every student's project, I'm caught up with committee work... 

Things I do not control: A text informs me of an armed robbery a few blocks away, news of a shooting at a superstore close to where we used to live and where MIL still lives, L tells me she was friends with the MSU student who died in Gaza.

I'm going to take the next two days off to loaf and read and cook and eat and laze and hang out with my people. I shall loaf and invite my soul

Pic: Max and Hucky celebrating with an impromptu tussle at my feet.

Thursday, November 09, 2023

season's change

I am open at this time of the year
I know how to love
        I've built a bed out of longing
        and can't put it down

Pic: Playing "catch" with Max. All I have to do is stomp my foot and yell "catch that puppy!" and Max'll just chase himself all over the yard, running towards me to periodically feint around my feet until he runs out breath. Scout did this too; Huckie would never. Max is very nearly camouflaged amongst the leaves on the ground here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

weekday blur

I didn't get to throw big parties for Big A's 50th or Nu's 16th or really celebrate puja or Halloween in October as I wanted to--so I decided on Sunday morning that we absolutely must have a big Diwali party this weekend. 

By Sunday night, invitations had gone out, favors had been ordered, and the menu was finalized. It helps that Diwali seems to have gone mainstream lately, so I was able to find cute things like Diwali-themed photo booth accessories and treat bags. I guess we're doing this :)!

Today was busier than most Wednesdays as the first-years were registering for next term and there were some emergency meetings and emails on top of my regular schedule. Thankfully, I did manage to snatch an hour for a walk, but at the end of the day, I was really frayed and tired. I did like finding out my "Gender and Popular Culture" course was oversubscribed and has a waiting list though.

Pic: Max's tail is a blur as is Big A's hand. I took this picture to document how Max sleeps on his back as though he's human; Huckie is wedged between my feet and the side of the couch in a slightly more normal way. Please excuse the strange blue cast to everything, the overhead lights are set on some setting called "under the sea" or something.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023


No costumes, no party, no decorations, and no trick-or-treaters this year. Boo! But I love everyone else's decorations and costumes and look forward to next year. 

Sweet: So... I have tons of candy left (even after handing lots out in class). There are just two houses on our street with kids (one of them is ours) and both sets of kids are too cool for trick-or-treating. I predict my stress eating will be sweeeet for weeeeks to come.

Sweeter: Heaving a sign of relief for the tentative end of the UAW strike; optimistic that the needle of public opinion is shifting towards a ceasefire in the middle east; thankful for completed extraneous correspondence (difficult student note, colleague's review letter, and students' recommendation letters).

Sweetest: Anticipating Max's delight when he encounters snow for the first time tonight/tomorrow.

Pic: The Red Cedar through the trees. (From Sunday's walk.)

Monday, October 30, 2023

I am a chump-ian

1) It's seasonably cold now (in the 40s), and I asked Nu to wear a jacket to school. They refused, but consented to wear one on their walk to the bus stop to mollify me... IF I would take it from them when the bus arrived and took it back home with me. So that's what I did. They don't have time to go their locker in the morning, and a jacket is a pain to carry around all day. I get it. But also, I felt like a bit of a chump. 

2) I wondered why Big A and I haven't been hiking as much after his job moved back to Michigan... until he sat down and showed me on our calendar: he's working SO many more shifts (Michigan pays way less than Wisconsin). Between that, whatever it is that is making him sick and lose weight, and travel--there just hasn't been time to hike. I feel like a chump for not being able to figure this out by myself.

3) Nu was gone all day (for school and theater) and I let Huck and Max greet them when I brought them home at 8. Max (who loves Nu SO MUCH) got so excited, he couldn't contain himself and there was pee all over the place. Yup, I am a chump; he's still such a puppy, I should have known better!

Pic: Our street was surprisingly colorful although it was so dark when Nu headed for the school bus.

Sunday, October 29, 2023


Positive: Big A picked me up at the airport this morning and I am reunited with my people, puppies, and plants. I missed them! (The first day away was glorious though.) 

Negative: On Friday, I finally ID-ed why I was beginning to feel anxious in my hotel room--the last time I was at a conference (late March-early April), Scout had suddenly (or so it seemed) become very sick. The beige of hotel rooms will forever be a trigger to that horror.

Positive: I took a walk to say hello the river, and it looks like the new eastward bridge is open! I'm very excited for this. I'm saving this walk for when I can go with Big A or L.

Negative: Between being out of town on Big A's birthday weekend and this NWSA weekend, I've missed every Halloween gathering in our town--I should find a way to make class extra scary on Tuesday.

Pic: The bridge is open! The bridge is open!

Monday, October 23, 2023

the big day

Big A slept a lot and I had meetings all day, but we regrouped in the evening to sift through messages from family and go out to dinner. 

There was a lot of merriment. 

When I mentioned at the end of dinner how much I'd enjoyed all the jokes and giggling, At said "when are we NOT joking and giggling when we're together?" That is true and it was gratifying to hear the grown up kid validate that.

And perhaps this can be a "take-home gift" to anyone who sees this post--here's Talia Lakshmi Kolluri's amazing short story "The Good Donkey" from her collection What We Fed to the Manticore. I posted a link to this story on family chat, but no one has read it yet.

Pic: Big A with Birthday "bling," birthday cake, and a birthday smile. I know he said no party, but that didn't mean I couldn't go to the party store to buy knick knacks and tiaras that say "golden age" for all of us.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

bye-bye, weekend

The weekend was lovely... the weekend is over... 

The stars were just so countlessly brilliant last night as Big A and I walked Huck and Max, I just wanted to stay up all night. After we got back, I grabbed At, who was still up, and we sat out on the porch marveling for another hour. I fell into a bit of a trance from the lapping of the waves and light-show in the sky.

Now it's back to reality. 

I love when we're all together, so I felt really sad when we dropped At off at his place. And I feel guilty because Max drooled and barfed through the three-hour road trip despite the meds the vet prescribed. He loves new places, but has such a tough time in the car! We're thinking no road trips with Max for a while...

Pic: Goodbye to Torch Lake. Huck, me, At, Nu, Big A, and Max (a bit obscured as he's taking another look at the water). The Fall colors on the opposite shore are sublime.

Saturday, October 21, 2023


Big A turns 50 on Monday... it seems like a very BFD. It has been wild to reflect on the changes over the decades.

After I made everyone some (frozen) pizza for brunch, we commemorated this BFD by playing several rounds of how-well-do-you-know-the-birthday-baby.

Big A kept looking to me and asking if I had the key to questions like favorite book and favorite song--haha. I guess it is difficult to isolate things like that. But better than the right answers were the discussions the questions provoked. I think we did great job of figuring out his favorite author (Kurt Vonnegut), his favorite genre (hip-hop, which also turns 50 this year), and everyone was 100% certain that he'd never been on a blind date (he hadn't).

Pic: Nu, At, Big A, Max, and Huck. I imagine I can see the lake through the windows...  We got in around 2 am last night. KB had said the front door would be unlocked and we should just let ourselves into her parents' summer place. The door was unlocked and I did let myself in, but I was a bit worried that we may have let ourselves into the wrong house... I relaxed only after I saw a family picture with KB on the wall. 

Friday, October 20, 2023

here we go

Although it has stayed mostly green where we are, I can see the colors turning every day on my commute north to work. I listened to chants in Sanskrit in the car and it was pleasant and peaceful and gave me some time to enjoy the poetic beauty of the slokas and puzzle out the agglutinative meanings of words I don't know (my favorite this week is samudra-tanayaya-- body like an ocean).

I am excited to finish the 1001 meetings scheduled for today and then take off with the fam for Big A's birthday weekend. 

I couldn't find any places on the water that would allow us to bring Huck and Max, so KB kindly offered up her parents' place on Torch Lake. The plan is to get everyone a light dinner, pack a backpack each, pick up At after his shift... and go!

Pic: A glimpse of the Red Cedar north of us from CC.

Monday, October 16, 2023

for I don't know where I am

the day will happen soon enough
the shout of the sun 
the hit of to-dos 

how I will climb up the afternoon
then slide down
to dinner 

the hours search with serrated teeth 
to stitch time up
into context

sleep is a circadian memento mori  
yet I step to it

its shadows frantic, lurking in gaps
but once its here
its here

Pic: Huck and Max, tails aflutter.  (Cuddle time!)

Saturday, October 14, 2023

I can't today.

And Big A is working, At is at his place, Nu is out with friends, my family in India is together at a family celebration...

So it's ok if I can't. 

I spent most of the day in silence gathering myself. I can manage conversations with Huck and Max fine.

skin, hair, fur

Every night before he leaves for work, Big A has taken to reminding me to let go my feelings of overhwhelm and weltschmerz and focus on the ...