Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Sunday, June 09, 2024

mama's beach day

The girlfriends and I took off to Saugatuck for the day. I was so excited about this trip to the beach that I didn't get a wink of sleep last night!

I guess I hadn't been to the beach "by myself" since grade school--it has always been with family and kids. And I'll do that again this summer, because I love that... But there was something very freeing about heading out by myself. I didn't have to check on anyone or their water bottles, sunscreen, Epi-Pens, or pack extras of anything, prep meals and allergen-free snacks. I had my sunglasses and hat... and I was gone.

It was lovely. We talked all the way to the beach, had brunch, did a couple of garden tours, blissed out in the sand for hours, wandered the little boutiques for hours (we picked up a little present for BOL who couldn't go at the last moment), and had dinner before we headed home.

This next week is the one with deadlines and work meetings, and today was the perfect way to prepare for it. 

Pic: Lake Michigan is beautiful and fierce. 

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!) 

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!)

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. 

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, 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.

Monday, April 01, 2024

Ick and Yay

ICK: Something Engie mentioned in yesterday's comments made me wonder how I know of John Ruskin. It's almost all second-hand (save a few anthologized passages here and there), and from knowing people like William Morris, Tolstoy, and Gandhi revered him. I knew he was radical and sort of a socialist precursor and that he was a friend of the working class because Ruskin College in Oxford offers adult education. (Ruskin was an art prof at Oxford, Ruskin College is not part of the Oxford system, however.) I thought I'd read his Wiki to learn more... there were no big surprises except about his statement, "I like my girls from ten to sixteen" and learning he'd asked women whom he'd met when they were preteens to marry him. What is it with Victorians and the fetishization of prepubescents? That's already ruined Alice (Lewis Carroll) and Little Nell (Dickens) for me. And hurt who knows how many children in real life?

Pic: YAY for yesterday's egg hunt: Huck, Nu, At, and Max. 

I... we all.. missed Scout so much. We were so, so lucky to have him last year.  This was Max's first, and I hide puppy treats in the eggs as well, so he really got into this new game. 

This year the easiest clue rhymed "...arboreal" with "...Scout's memorial." They had a tough time with "...you could"/ "...birthday dogwood" (the dogwood tree my dear friends got me for my birthday). They didn't get it even after I explained it. "DOG WHAT? DOG WOOD?" They kept asking me. How do they not know what a dogwood is? Should I have taught them better? It made me laugh so much because they sounded so clueless! They're so sweet for still being all in about the egg hunt though.  

Saturday, March 30, 2024

a Wilde arrow

Other people probably already know this, but TIL John Ruskin taught Oscar Wilde at Oxford. In my head, they're very unlike each other: Ruskin a socialist political economist, and Wilde a socialite playwright--but ultimately, I guess, they're both social reformists. (It's a pity how much the whole homophobic case against Wilde weighs on my internal summary of his history.)

I looked Wilde up because of the beautiful lines "And flashing down the river, a flame of blue!/ The kingfisher flies like an arrow, and wounds the air." in his poem "Magdalen Walks." It made me want to check if Wilde had attended Magdalen College. (One of the first and lasting things I learned at Oxford was that you're supposed to pronounce it "Maudlin.") He had. He'd had three years in Trinity College, Dublin, and then another four years at Magdalen--which makes this the longest undergraduate journey I know. 

It kind of connected with my own day... EM joined us for dinner and one of the things we talked about was how we each got interested in Greek mythology. Someone EM knows got into it because its pansexual worldview was different from their own social environment, EM herself got into it because the women in it can be powerful, and I got into it because at some point I followed some childhood book about comparative mythologies and became enamored of Greek culture. Wilde read classics at Oxford--so that's how I'm going to close this loop.

Pic: Redbud beside the Red Cedar from a walk yesterday. Today was grey and rainy all day. (I didn't see a kingfisher, but I will think of them "wounding the air" the next time I do.)
 

Friday, March 22, 2024

the hellebores of yore

I took a picture of our hellebores coming up yesterday, and a good thing too... today they're blanketed in about five inches of snow.

The snow wasn't going to stop us from heading to Yellow Springs for a long overdue visit to Grandma S tomorrow...

Except Big A seems to have gotten the flu from patients (lots of Flu B out there, people)... so I guess we're not going after all.

My poor MIL! this is our much delayed and postponed CHRISTMAS visit! The post title sounds like an old-timey lament, and that's exactly how I feel.

Pic: Hellebores/Lenten Roses in the backyard before the snow.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

small planet, big feelings

Usually on teaching days, all I do--all it seems I can do--is teach and then head home to veg. But today, despite some kid-care challenges, I managed to have tea with BOL and then walk over to the Wharton to see Small Island Big Song with EM. 

When EM first asked if I wanted to go to "Small Island," I thought it was a dramatization of the Andrea Levy novel we both love--it isn't. It turns out to be a beautiful cross-cultural collaboration between musical artists from about 16 islands dotting the Pacific and Indian oceans. I didn't understand a single word... and I didn't need to... the music was so joyous and transportive. I loved the artists' camaraderie and synergism. And their final song about the danger to the Great Barrier Reef sounded sorrowful and (rightfully) angry and nearly brought me to tears.

Things I thought about during the concert: 

1) How my last set of season tickets at the Wharton was pre-pandemic and I need to see about getting tickets again. They have Six playing this weekend, and I would have liked to go. 

2) Because I couldn't understand the lyrics at the concert, I thought about how much my mom likes Nelly songs (esp. "Hot in Here" and "Ride Wit Me") although she probably only gets about 50-70% of the lyrics (because of slang and accent). The kids find this HILARIOUS. (I mean I do too... my mom has never smoked anything in her life let alone an "L.")

3) I hadn't yet finished The Bee Sting at that point in the evening, but its climate grief really connected with the music in Small Island Big Song. One of the characters in The Bee Sting rages about how strange it is that poets keep writing about birds and flowers and so on as though whole species aren't disappearing every day. That is SO true! (10/10 for The Bee Sting, BTW.)

Pic: Small Island Big Song in concert. I'm off to see if I can find their songs on the internet. 

Sunday, March 03, 2024

"take a hike," they said

Well, actually no one did. But it has become a tradition to go on a hike before my birthday. Last year we went to the Ledges on a very snowy day. This year I couldn't have asked for a better day for my pre-birthday hike! It was such a balmy 60+ degrees and sunshiny and at some point, I had to slip my arms out of my long-sleeved shirt and wore the sleeves dangling like an extra pair of arms. 

Burchfield Park--new to me--was an easy eight-mile loop and scenic all the way through.

Pic: Big A my navigator + water and snack carrier ahead of me. 

Friday, February 09, 2024

check 1, 2,

Every day on my way to work, I cross four rivers: Red Cedar, Looking Glass, Maple, and Pine. 

I've been meaning to take a photograph of the expanse of the Maple for years now. But the access road off the highway is on my way to work. And I usually feel like I'm in a hurry, so I wasn't able to. 

Until today--I had an hour before my first meeting, so I took the detour. The Maple is the biggest of my four rivers (I think)--at least at the point where I cross it. The kids and I used to call it taking a deep breath of beauty because of all the sunrises on the way to school.

When I got to the lookout point this morning, it was a bit disappointing because the reeds were taller than me, and I couldn't really see the river. But it was very quiet and calm and smelled briny and rustic and there was a bright blue sky and sunshine... so I spent some time soaking it all in. 

And now I know. It's checked off my mental list. I don't have to wonder about the view from the outlook or feel regret about not making the time to take a detour.

Also: I'm SO relieved to be finished with Hello, Beautiful. Everyone seems to have loved it, but about halfway through I disagreed fiercely with a primary character's decision. Then I began to realize the writing couldn't really keep up and resorted to a lot of telling (v. showing) etc. 

Pic: Finally, I get to take a picture from the bank of the Maple River.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

an infinity

the curl of this wave... like
the undeniable curl of a smile
the curl of my hand inside yours

I may be in love with 
the unbothered way it spills
over... of how its crimped cusp

holds in everything: 
laughter erupting unruly
the turns and returns of grief 

look how tightly it wraps
itself around us, so we know 
its whorl could swallow us whole  
_________________________

Pic: Not Michigan. On the beach in Cabo a few days ago. 

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...