Showing posts with label World. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World. Show all posts

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Mother's Day!! (observed!)

We celebrated Mother's Day today as I was in England on the actual day. All day long At/Nu/Big A would say "Happy Mother's Day!" And then add sotto voce--"observed!"--as though they were reading off a calendar. Perhaps you had to be there, but it was low key hilarious. 

It was a Happy Mother's Day for me. We made breakfast tacos, which turned out delicious (At and Big A took some leftovers for later). At and Nu helped me dig up and plant some redbud saplings that L gave me and then we all worked in the garden as has become our custom. At and Nu put the new garden chairs together, Huck climbed on top of the picnic table to sun herself as she always does, and Max followed me around as I weeded and puttered and then flopped into the grass by my feet to nap. When the chairs were built (hi-jinks and a few YouTube videos were involved), we picnicked with lemonade and donuts. Nu and Huck headed back inside and I had a lovely heart-to-heart with my eldest while Max napped on my feet. 

Pic: The kids with me before card, presents, and heading outside...


Monday, May 22, 2023

Home: In two pics

I brought my midwestern travelers home!
I love that there are some families and parents in this picture too...

Reunited with my babies! They took this selfie looming over me as I was falling asleep on the couch around 8:00 pm.


Saturday, May 20, 2023

Karl Marx, Gordon Ramsay, Farewell London

Last day in London today. I'd signed us up for a Karl Marx walking tour, but most people wanted to try to get on the London Eye, so off they went with my blessings. I took the bus to Piccadilly Sq. to meet the walking group and milled about on the fringes of a well-heeled, Boomer-ish looking group until I realized they were there for The Beatles walking tour. A few feet away a smaller, rag-tag group was beginning to gather and when I tentatively asked "Marx?" They responded "Yes!" and "Absolutely!" so enthusiastically I felt I was at a political rally.🙂

The guide has a doctorate in Marx studies, and although the sights themselves were merely the seedy front of buildings and smelly alleys, I learned A LOT. The best moment was towards the end of the tour when hearing about Eugene Pottier's travel through England, our multicultural group began to sing The Internationale in their native tongues.

So I had a super nerdy day by myself, then a farewell dinner with the group at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant recommended by a student, where we celebrated another student's birthday, and suddenly everyone seemed super sad to leave and "return to reality." I love these people. But also, I miss my babies, and am ready for my routines and grappling with the reality of a life without Scout. 

we got jokes


I miss my irreverent and rowdy family.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Jhalak: a glimpse*

Sunny Singh generously spent  the morning with us, taking questions about her work from students who'd  written about her work using superlatives in their reading journals.

And in the evening, we attended the fabulous Jhalak Prize celebration at the London Library as Sunny's guests. This was definitely a highlight of the trip--most of the authors on the shortlists (children's and adult) were on hand to give a short reading and mingle. There is so much great writing in the world... I need to rearrange my life so I can read it all.

Pic: Travis Alamanza, Ann Sei Lin, Danielle Jawando, Christine Pillainayagam, Lucy Farfort, Angela Hui, Anita Pati, and Charles Patterson. Sheena Patel and Ayanna Banwo are up to hijinks with their books in the front row.

* Jhalak translates as "glimpse," so I'm being as tautological as chai tea.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

"All the world's a stage"

I'm in bed mode now, so just four more days before I head for home. I can make fake it. (Look at me with all my theater and acting references.)

I've been checking in with students and our chaperone, and basically everyone is simultaneously having a great time and also ready to go home. Good to know I'm not the only one.

Also, the last time I did this, At came along as a student and Nu came along as my companion, and I made breakfast for them in my flat every morning and we weren't apart for Mothers' Day. Guess it makes sense that this time would feel different and difficult.

Pic: A Comedy of Errors at the Globe Theatre. Not my favorite Shakespearean play, but I did enjoy it more than I thought I would because it was a different version from the one I saw in May 2019.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023


I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed with duty and being in work mode 24-hours a day. + A gnawing low-key headache all the time.

Texts from home urging me to "tum home soon" (we don't have a toddler, but everyone still uses long-ago toddlerese) weren't helping. And grief for Scout is constant and the risk of it erupting feels high.

I needed some time to myself, so after I delivered everyone to the V&A after class this afternoon, I took off for some solo adventures and shopped for gifts and splurged two pounds on a bottle of conditioner (the bar conditioner DID NOT WORK). Back at the flat, I made myself a veggie-rich meal and am beginning to feel a bit more like myself.

When I shared some pictures from last week on FB, a childhood friend remarked that I was "living the dream." Indeed, I am--time to start acting like it.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Hyde Park Time

In honor of being at Speakers' Corner, everyone recited a small piece from a famous Hyde Park speaker. It's always interesting what people choose--we heard a variety from Pankhurst to Orwell.

I remember specifically asking people to memorize their bit, and... some didn't. I need to sit with why I feel so irritated by this.

I don't feel well today. + I'm at that point in the trip where I'm seriously counting down how long before I get to go home. A week is the upper limit of time I can spend away before the experience begins to pall. 

Pic: Our picnic at Hyde Park. 

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Oxford: building a longer table

I absolutely love when I can bring my old life and my current life together. 

Today we went to Oxford and my students got to meet my old profs. Lectures, Q&A, a long pub lunch at a suitably long table... my heart is full. 

A couple of students said they'd like to do graduate school at Oxford/in the U.K. I love being able to help--even a little bit--to nudge open the door from our small bubbles into the world.

What we read: papers by Robert and Will because we were meeting them. And also--thanks NGS--extracts from R.F. Kuang's Babel because it's set in Oxford and is about translation and colonialism.

Pic: Profs and students at The Royal Oak. A colleague brought their adorable 13-year-old doggie to lunch... and I had to quickly blink away tears because I started imagining Scout making it to 13.  I miss everyone at home right now, and I think some part of me thinks he'll be there when I reunite with the rest of the family in ten days.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Bloomsbury: reception

The class got a special tour through Bloomsbury with performances from Mike and Cindy. 

A person who yawned in class when I lectured on T. S. Eliot and E. M. Forster and Virginia Woolf and Rabindranath Tagore is all smiles here. My feelings aren't hurt or anything. 😉

Pic: Mike and Cindy enacting Hilda Doolittle(H.D.)'s dance of adultery.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

London: up, down, and all around

I sleep badly and irresponsibly in every time zone. 

Last night, I stayed up past 2 am GMT reading every obituary I could find for Dooce. I was devastated to hear she had died...  by suicide... the day before... and how little coverage there was. which used to cover her breathlessly hasn't even mentioned her death. I realize she'd done some TERF-y stuff lately, but the silence is depressing. 

I don't know when I fell asleep, but we were on for a tour around London today. We read landmarks of poetry at various London landmarks. The top favorite, I think, was Patience Agbabi's "London Eye," which cleverly references Wordsworths's Westminster Bridge poem

Nicole and NGS, thank you for your podcast rec of Stuff the British Stole! It's going on my class notes for tomorrow.  

Pic: Our Thames river cruise with the London Eye in the background. I told my students how lovely they were about not complaining when I asked them to pose for pics. (At and Nu would never.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The British Museum: just saying no (to cultural theft)

Everyone in class is tickled by the fact that the British Museum is older than the United States. And everyone in class is outraged about much it owns and how it "loans" (ha!) stuff back to countries and communities of origin. 

We prepped for our visit by reading lots of poems linked to artifacts at the museum. Some of what we read:
W.B. Yeats “The Second Coming” 
Thomas Hardy “In the British Museum” 
Daljit Nagra "Hadrian's Wall" 
George the Poet “The Benin Bronze” 
John Keats “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles” 
Percy Bysshe Shelley “Ozymandias”
Seamus Heaney “Punishment”

Then we waded through museum studies videos and articles to work our way around themes of cultural appreciation, appropriation, colonial theft, etc. At our visit, I polled the group to see if they thought we ought to--as the museum suggests--make a donation. They went with "Hell no!" 

Pic: Under the beautiful dome of the British Museum today.

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

London: fuzzy glimmers

I, along with tons of people on the internet, learned about "glimmers," which are "the opposite of triggers" on CupOfJo (and elsewhere) this weekend. I cannot say how much I love this concept.

A bit jet-lagged and tired today, but here are a couple of glimmers.

* Made a quick trip to the local Sainsbury's and I found my favorite mango-passionfruit yogurt. Why do they not have this in the US? It's the most sublime flavor IMO and the first spoonful just took me back to uni days.  

* Someone texted me that they got a 4.0 on a test and I haven't figured out who it is--whether friend or student or advisee or kid of a friend, etc... but I'm so happy for them!

Pic: A fuzzy picture of the view from my room (we're right in the heart of Bloomsbury).

Monday, May 08, 2023

Let's do this!

I wasn't packed for The Empire Writes Back: Cosmopolitan England trip at 9 am, but by 9:45, I was all packed. It helped that I had a mental list and the physical list I'd shared with students to work with. Also it's a work trip, so I don't have to look "cute," just capable--so I've relied on my work uniform of pants and blouses. I know from experience that when I take off with Big A for our annual honeymoon, I stress about what to pack a lot, lot more. I have a carryon only again. I overcame the problem of how to take two weeks of shampoo and body-wash in my carryon by buying some nice bar soap and a shampoo bar. (No idea how they work yet, though.)

I'm not worried about Nu, because they have At and Big A and L to take care of them. I am worried about Huck because although she has everyone to look after her too, she's so lonely now and I don't want her to think Mama died too. 

Speaking of which, once I was packed I had nothing to do but worry about the million different things that could go wrong with my meticulously laid plans for the next two weeks. But I just checked in on student travel journals and their excitement is catching... Let's do this! 

Pic: My students and I have matching scarves on our backpacks so we can ID each other even without faces. 

Sunday, May 07, 2023

balance sheet

Things I've done: Stocked the fridge, used up all the fridge veggies, watered all my plants, finished class prep for the next week, talked with/texted everyone, cleared brush, distributed the morels we found yesterday, read a ton, cried about Scout, spent extra time with Nu and Huck, fought with Big A, made up with Big A, took long soaks and longer walks...

Things I've not done: actually packed for the two-week trip to the UK my students and I are leaving on tomorrow. Yikes.

Pic: Walk with L in Baker Woods. Trillium in the foreground! L and I found this patch right as we were wondering if we would see some. It was like we had magically summoned them. Trillium! 

Saturday, May 06, 2023


Big A and I decided against a walk (MSU graduation day is today and campus seemed overrun) and worked on clearing out brush in the woodsy patches alongside the driveway instead. We got a lot done, but we have tons more to do--raking is probably next as dead leaves are choking the ground cover.

I took no breaks, but I did get distracted... I was excited to find a morel and then found about twenty more. I've been checking the patch in the S.E. corner by the fallen elm since the rains, but I think that area has been blitzed too thoroughly by the mower to produce anymore. So happy to find this new (to me) patch. 

Pic: Big A with a big stick. I call him the "branch manager" when he gets too bossy. 

Thursday, May 04, 2023

visits (pasts and futures)

I had to visit my CASA kids at the Luce Road school today. I got such a running tackle-hug combo when CD spied me walking down the hallway. Then their aide reminded them to use "walking feet" in the hallway, and I remembered how I love elementary school sociolects. And then CD began announcing loudly and proudly to everyone that I was their case worker. OMG. I love kids and their lack of filter and the weird things they're proud of. 

I also got various random kids stepping up to me to shyly say hello. I had to wonder at the combination of shyness and speaking unprompted to a stranger they didn't have to speak to. I was chuckling on the inside and all grown up on the outside. The whole thing was such a delightful interlude. 

This had been Nu's school ten years ago, so there were flashbacks to my serious kindergartner and of bringing puppy Scout to school and being told he had big feet so he'd be a big boy, etc. And then I saw Nu's first grade teacher, Ms. G. I remembered how Nu told me and Big A not to smoke (we don't) because Ms. G's parents had died from smoking. Ms. G thought it was hilarious--not her parents' deaths, but what her students' parents remember ten years on. And THEN, I saw one of MY students from five years ago, whom I had mentioned in class just this morning (for the random reason of them having been a picky eater on our London trip). That was truly bonkers.

Today brought many smiles. And Big A will be back home tonight too...  (Just seven more trips to Milwaukee before his job moves back to Michigan. YAY!!)

Pic: Wandering with Huck in the backyard... there's grass growing inside this tree hollow!

Monday, May 01, 2023

sitting with sorrow

Friends have been incredibly supportive and I am so grateful for friends who understand, are trying to understand, or are simply there for me as I grieve Scout. Friends who make themselves available, check in via text and visits, send cards in the mail, bring deserts I do not need, or simply sit with me while I sob, etc...

I wonder if I appreciate this so much because it's culturally different from how I grew up, where you're expected to put grief away within a "suitable" interval. 

I was reminded of this over the weekend when I broke down while I was talking with my sister, and she told me sternly to pull myself together for the sake of the other kids. My sister loves me very much, and I suspect she phrased it like that believing it to be the most effective way to stop my tears (and because she loves me so much that hearing me cry makes her sad). But also, I already do a lot of "pulling it together" so I can give the kids or my students my best self and I was hoping to let my guard down with her... so... 

Pic: A card from KB arrived in the mail today... what a perfect image and sentiment.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023


I wrote a long-ish post on Facebook to share about Scout as though telling everyone I know would make it seem more real. 

Mostly stuff I've been sharing here for weeks... with the addition our perfect last day... We'd made grilled cheese, had fried bananas and icecream (his favorite), and took a family nap in the rumpus room. Scout went from At and me on one couch to Big A and Huckie on the other, before curling up with Nu on the floor. We took another tiny walk in the backyard and then Dr. R came. Scout went too quickly. The Doc said it would take 10-15 minutes, but it took Scout barely a minute. My baby must have been so ready.

I'm glad I shared on FB. There was so much love for Scout and so many well wishes on his onward journey. They had just started at the crematorium, so this was a send off with people all over the world wishing him well as I listened to the Aditya Hridayam over and over. I had mentioned on the post how he'd never managed to make a kitty friend despite trying very hard, and it led to the sweetest blessing from a high school friend: "may he finally make friends with the kittens... they are definitely friendlier where he is."

Max week

It has been a week of/with/at Max.  I'm so relieved Huck and Max seem to be getting along better. They're not cuddling together (yet...