Wednesday, December 31, 2008
A neighborhood old folks recreation center has an annual project of making kim chee that is given to shut ins, orphanages, old folks rest homes, etc. Local companies send volunteers to help and it becomes a two day community project. Sadly I didn't have my camera on the first day but the real work is here on the second day.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Quick note to say I haven't disappeared. It's been a whirlwind, what with the snow lasting for days, and trying to get ready for Christmas. I'm still working on my cards, and it's taking days! I first started the letter on the 18th. I will return, just need to go to bed. DD is up, doing the crossword, asking me questions from the other room. I think my brain has left the building. Clean shut down.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
“The weather outside is frightful… It doesn’t show signs of stopping…”
Brings to mind older times. I know this cold weather and/or “mixed winter precipitation” (Yahoo weather) is a fairly nationwide thing, but it’s certainly not the norm, not for us in the Northwest. Sure, we have the Cascade and the Olympic mountain ranges, but for the lowlands on the coastal side of the Cascades, this is simply arctic. Nice thing is we haven’t lost power. Yet. High winds are predicted, but right now, it’s pretty calm. Granted, the curtains are drawn, the blinds are down, and it’s dark outside. I’m listening to the Swing Years on KUOW. Periodically I go outside to check the temp (currently, 25 degrees and holding) and see that it is snowing.
“…pretty snowflakes, pretty snowflakes, coming down from the sky; pretty snowflakes, pretty snowflakes, hello and goodbye…” the radio chirps. Patty Page, Christmas 1959?
It began while we were out on the field trip to the mall. DD was suffering from severe cabin fever, so it was decided that we venture out before the coming storm, just to break up the monotony. We started with a much needed haircut for DS, whose hair, despite a floor littered with what was cut off, is still long. But it looks oh so much better, and he is actually happy with it. We are thinking that getting it cut more often, say once every 2-3 months might be a good thing. I can’t imagine him with short hair.
I then dropped the kids off at the mall while I picked up a couple of Christmas items for DS. Not the least of which was a cell phone. I got the Voyager. This adventure took me an hour. Thirty minutes before I arrived at the Verizon store, it began to snow. So, as it had already started coming down, and sticking (everything’s still quite cold out there), I was beginning to think about the drive home.
“So, do you want to go for the two for one deal on a new phone?” said the sales clerk. At the same time a text message was coming in from DD: “How long are you going to be? DS is hungry and he’s complaining about being cold.” “Where are you?” I pecked back. “Starbucks. Can I get him some popcorn chicken?” “Yes, please do. Just come and get the car keys from me and get his insulin case.” And to the clerk, “um, I didn’t think about that…do I have to get two of the same ones?” and so on.
As it turns out, I went for the two-fer offer, and soon DH will realize that his current phone is no longer working. That’s when I’ll need to tell him he got a new one. Wonder if we can hold that off until Christmas Eve? He hardly ever uses the damn thing. The new one is an EnV, and I like the big keys on the pad. Nice on the fingers and eyes. Perfect for him.
The Swing Years were getting too goofy, so I’ve switched to some choral music. Very nice. The Kings College Choir. This is what I remember from going to a Christmas Midnight Mass one year. There is something very comforting about being in a cathedral, listening to the resonant voice of the priest and other readers, the organ and voices of the choir. Outside it is cold, but in this moment we are all together, warm, and expectant. We listen, wait and watch, and when it is over we return to the cold and drive silently home.
This is the first year I will have missed every week of Advent. This is very unusual. Advent is when I started going to Grace, nine years ago. There would have been a time when I’d have felt a great loss. I feel some of that now, but I am more at peace with being home.
That's it for now...
Friday, December 19, 2008
The Little Drummer Boy was my favorite animated Christmas show when I was a kid. That, and that other one, with Burl Ives singing “A Holly Jolly Christmas.” Wish I could remember the name of that one. I’ll have to Google it.
* * * * *
Way later in the day, evening in fact…
We just watched one episode of Northern Exposure. Holling is experiencing mid-life crisis and retreats to his still, while Joel begins to feel isolated as the sole Jew in Cicely. Ed answers an ad in a magazine to find and film someone whose craft is part of a dying breed; he discovers and films Ira Wingfeather, last of the duck flute makers.
I love this show. The characters and situations are quirky. They say what’s on their minds, follow their whims, explore eccentric ideas and play out scenes of psychological oddness most would just keep to themselves. I’m hard pressed to pick a favorite—Chris, with his Jesus haircut and philosopher’s bent; Maggie, with her prickly personality and endearing bitchiness; Marilyn, quiet, a dry wit and powerful presence; Ed’s wide-eyed eagerness and native wisdom; and Adam and Eve, a psychopath and a hypochondriac; and narrow-minded doctor Joel.
We’re getting ready to watch the Piano-flinging episode. … And it was as good as ever.
Now I’m pooped. It’s cold out there—probably nearing the 16 degrees Yahoo said it would get to, and there is snow predicted for tomorrow evening. At this point rain is called for by Christmas, but that could all change. Or, not. I’ve gotten accustomed wearing my down vest around the house. At this point, we are heating pretty much solely with wood heat. We’re out of propane, and have been for months. There is a little space heater in our bathroom upstairs and one in DD’s room. When we finally do give in and buy oil, it’ll seem weird to once again have warm floors.
Our cat, during the first episode tonight, brought in a sizeable rat. It lay twitching and pulling itself along the carpet, finally lodging itself under the sofa. Its tail was quite long. After some minutes, and a moment when DS came bounding down the stairs, oblivious, having knocked a picture off the stairwell wall. We just found the glass on the carpet. It’s a wonder it didn’t break. DH dispatched the rat with some pliers. I don’t know where it ended up. The cat is still looking for it.
I’m still working on the Christmas letter, having forgotten to include our trip to San Francisco. I now have to squeeze that in, and pare down something else to get everything onto one piece of paper. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. A good lesson in revision, which I have strangely come to enjoy.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!!
Got my snow day. It is after noon, and still coming down as it has been the past three or four hours.
Hours later: I’m watching Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? A Episcopal priest is going for the million dollars. Now a commercial break, and DH is channel surfing. Ch. 9, and Sherman Alexie is one, speaking with Enrique Cerna. Back to the $500,000 question. Legendary Native American leader Geronimo was the chief of what tribe? The priest said Apache. The fifth grader said Chumash tribe. Apache was right, and we didn’t have to wait for a zillion commercials to get to that point. More Sherman, and then back to the million dollar final question. Did the priest go for it, or did he quite while he was ahead? He decided to take the money and run. What was the final question? Who wrote the 1812 Overture? Poor guy, and he of course knew that one too, having taught music for eight years.
Today was spent taking two walks, and at least 150 photos. I got my Christmas letter composed, and ready to print tomorrow. Now I have to put together the photo card to sent with the letter, and maybe select a poem for the year. We made two batches of gingerbread cookies. These are all creative things. And that feels good to me.
Now I’m very tired, and looking forward to a good, uninterrupted sleep. There is no school tomorrow, no school until after the New Year.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Evening Pages again. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get into a Morning Page habit. Certainly don’t have a leisure that Bly must have had to do his Morning Poems book, although I think it had to do with being at Bennington for a month. As I understand it, he wouldn’t get out of bed until he’d written a poem.
Not so easy to write right now. I’m feeling a little self conscious about the loud sound of these keys. DH isn’t fond of the sound. But, with Loreena McKennitt playing in the background, perhaps it isn’t the problem I imagine it to be. I wonder how quiet Mac laptop keys are… Thinking about a laptop, which I’m working on, makes me think about both of my Soapstone residencies: the snow during my first time there, first week of Jan. 2004, and the spawning salmon the second time, Nov. 2005. I miss it—the quiet, the relative freedom to write when I want to, sleep when I want, to write as long as I feel it is possible to write—and I hope someday to go back.
I remember the cold mornings, trying to get the Duchess warmed up so that the cabin would be comfortable. (I don’t miss cleaning the glass in the door to the woodstove; most times it would be near impossible to do!) Sometimes I challenged myself to see if I could get it started by what hidden embers there were left in the ashes. I even enjoyed collecting and splitting wood. All night I left the little window alongside my bed cracked to let in the cold air and to allow me to hear Soapstone Creek. Mornings I learned not to sit up quickly, so as not to hit my head on the ceiling above me—the landing level with the deck, one level below the writing cube.
Everything was gotten to by ladder—my sleeping loft, the deck (which I didn’t use as it was cold each time I was there), and the Cube—a series of three ladders, the last of which required one to balance while holding open the trap door to the Cube. Both times I was there I had to use the little space heater, feeling a little guilty because I was using power, but loving the comfort it brought. Of course, I’d turn it off when I wasn’t up there, or start it a few minutes before I settled in to write.
The writing desk was always at a perfect slant and height, the chair easy to work in. At times I’d have my floor covered with a manuscript I was putting together. The nice things was, I could leave it that way and come back to it later without annoying anyone. A basket to carry the things I would need, a cup of tea and lunch. It was here I did Morning Pages daily. I managed 25 pages the second week I attended, and it *was* very freeing. It was there I wrote for hours without guilt.
Now it’s quiet again. DS reading a book for English, DH doing the crossword. I’ve got my “Jesus candle” burning, the one S gave me when she came over to tell me about my past lives and my guides. I think it’s beeswax, and it’s nestled in a little palm-sized blue glass bowl. Yellow and blue, the colors I’d once imagined when I imagined Jesus. (And by way of Synchronicity Loreena sings the word ‘Jesus’ as I type this. So Holy Spirit, so Zen, at the same time. All things connected, all things flowing.)
The snow came again, and so did a little rain, in between. Temp is hovering right around 33, and according to the reports, it’ll get colder by tomorrow. High 25, I think, tomorrow and Friday. Secretly I’m hoping for no school. Secretly I hope not to have to work. I want to wake up to a foot of snow and a week of cold temperatures. I want a white Christmas. Except it would be good if for Christmas we could have safe roads to drive so that family can all get together as planned. Then we can have more snow, and hunker down to read, write, do puzzles.
I’ll need to get in gear and send in a few submissions before December gives way to 2009. I’ve missed so many deadlines these past few months, and gotten careless with my record-keeping—a thing I was all but obsessive about for three or four years. Now the mailbox doesn’t make me as anxious, but I do still wonder if there’ll be some long awaited acceptance that finally made its way back to me.
For Christmas and New Year I want good news. Maybe the knowledge that my book has been accepted for publication. Maybe I shouldn’t say ‘maybe.’ Let’s try to be more definite, speak in a confident voice about what I want. This coming year, 2009, will be the year I find a publisher for my book. This will be the year my mss. wins a contest. It has been a finalist a few times, and a semi-finalist; now it’s time for the final destination for this particular mss. I’ve gotten so close—runner up to the winner in a contest of 650+ mss.
I just blew my Jesus Candle out. The soft warm flesh of it smells good, even through the lingering smoke trail. I wish for good news. I hope it snows. I hope a lot of things.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
It’s quiet right now. I wonder how long it’ll last. DS is doing his research paper (final draft, last minute, most of it done today, and changed from it’s original by a lot). He calls me in to help frequently, but those visits amount to a brief suggestion from me, and the words “okay, you can go now,” from him. Soon he’ll call me back in. I’m sure of it.
This quiet is so wonderful. A couple of lamps on in the living room; otherwise the light is low. The cat jumped over my knitting magazine racks, into the space between the piano and the wall and, discovering nothing alive (or dead), she leapt out again and padded noiselessly upstairs to DD’s room, undoubtedly hoping the heater was turned on again. DD (and the cat, I’m sure) complained that during the day someone (DH) must have come in and turned it off. Now the room is “fifteen degrees colder in here.”
And that might be true. It has been cold here, and it’s not quite officially winter. The snow is still on the ground, with more forecast for the middle night and on into tomorrow. The kids, of course, are hoping for morning delays at the very least; better would be the total closure of school for the day (or the remaining three days leading up to Winter Break).
In many ways, I’m all for it. I like when they get to sleep in, and I do, too. I like not having to stew about what to fix for lunches and who will eat what for breakfast. There’s nothing worse on a hectic morning when I ask DD “what do you want for breakfast?” to hear “I don’t know!” They are hungry (or not) and want you to figure out what it is they want, even though they turn down every available option as quickly as you can come up with something. Or, they insist they are not hungry and “you want me to throw up?” if you make them eat. It’s a no-win situation.
DS has called me in, and now I’m back. It doesn’t take long – just long enough to discover he hasn’t read any of the Long Term Dependent Project “Bible” – the research paper guidelines that spell out in detail how the paper should be structured, according to MLA standards. “You mean I have to read this whole thing? This is as big as Lord of the Rings!” “Yes, you do, and no, it isn’t.”
Thirteen is extreme. It’s big and dramatic and tiring and electrically charged. Thirteen is full of absolutes, with no room for grey areas. A thing either is, or it isn’t. And it’s essential to know what will happen before it happens. It’s crucial to know (yes or no) if a thing is going to happen, and exactly when. If the answer to something the thirteen-year old wants is no, then it is important to be persistent in discovering when the answer will turn into a yes.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The report is finished. I didn’t read it. I think DS was just so intent on being done with it, that he didn’t encourage me to go over it with a fine-toothed comb. In some cases, done is better than done well, or thoroughly done. Since then he’s been bounding around the house, and finally consented to eat some dinner (at around 8:45 pm), having insisted earlier that he wasn’t hungry. (See above.) When the report was done (in its own way) I presented DS with a warmed up plate of fried rice I’d made and some peas. After wolfing that down he announced he was starving and what else was there to eat? A bowl of homemade applesauce and homemade yogurt, and a slice of just-out-of-the-oven Italian potato bread. He’s now bouncing off the walls worse than usual.
The potato bread turned out well enough. I’ve made four loaves in the past 24 hours. The first two didn’t make it past this afternoon, and of the two that just came out of the oven, two thirds of one of those loaves is devoured. There’s nothing like fresh warm bread. Now there’s “probably a quarter of a loaf” left, according to DD, who just sliced off another hunk. I’ve eaten my fair share of the bread throughout the day – I think I’ve had enough.
I also started another batch of yogurt, and strained it into it’s container to incubate overnight. Overnight, while the snow begins to fall, and the school reports are revised, the phone calls come to announce either a late arrival time, or no time at all. A day with no real certainty to it yet, no definite answers. Only the black of night, the white of what’s left on the ground, waiting.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I have been lax today. Welll, sort of. It was a time to go outside and take photos of the snow--we got three inches at least--and to retrieve the paper at the end of the road. Our power went out about 10 am, and stayed out until almost 3 pm. Piece of cake. It came on again while I was reading on the sofa, right under the light that suddenly illuminated the pages. What a nice surprise~
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Watching Victor Borge right now. There aren’t many like him. His was a talent and humor rarely found anymore. Truly funny without offence, with a deep love of language as well as music. To watch him so easily play piano while clowning around is amazing. I wonder what it is like to be so comfortable with your art that you can play around with it in front of an audience, and so flawlessly! I hope there will be another like him some day. Just like those actors who were so multi-talented—they could sing, dance and act—and are still a joy to watch.
Being able to play the piano so comfortably, and so intuitively, would be a gift. I’d love to be able to do that. I took lessons for twelve years, but didn’t really get to be that great. Perhaps if I’d practiced more, and not just on Monday after school, the hour before my lesson. A few years ago, I tried to take a few lessons, but found my fingers just weren’t as nimble as I would have liked. Or, maybe I just didn’t have the patience it would take to stick with it. Or the true passion. It’s been a couple of years since I played, and I might just try it again. In remodeling/rearranging our living room, we switched places with the piano and the T.V.
Right now the news is making a big deal over the tiny bit of snow that is sticking to the ground. Reporters are pointing out patches of snow accumulated on grassy areas around Seattle where roads are still shiny wet. There is talk about blizzard conditions (a light snow), and how to deal with hypothermia and frostbite. Sigh. True, I did have to remove a small tree from a friend’s driveway when bringing her son home after school. We did have a little wind yesterday. It constantly amazes me how the news seems to have a need to sensationalize, to create a stew amongst the general public. Makes one appreciate PBS and the BBC World news. You just can’t get a local weather report, unless you are listening to local Public Radio.
DD and I got out and drove today awhile. Before the snow. She’s doing pretty well, and getting practice often, at least every other day, if not more. Admittedly, I wouldn’t mind waking up to a pile of snow. We’ve got a roast, and I could easily make another couple of pizzas. (We have home-made pizza this evening while watching the Three Priests on PBS. I’d never heard them before, and they were good.) The only down-side would be no drive practice if the roads remain icy.
A glass of dessert wine and two small glasses of port have sent me into a sleepy state. I’ve decided that Benjamin Port is pretty decent, while the Carlos Basso Vendimia Tardia (Vino Blanco Dulce Natural) 2006, is a little sweet for my taste. Too bad there was only a small piece of Spanish chocolate left to go with it.
So far, I've missed four weeks of church, the last two of which were the first and second Sundays of Advent. And my first day at Grace was the first day of Advent, nine years ago. And now I'm not sure if I'll make it there in the morning. I live about 20 minutes away, and I really don't know what to expect with regards to road conditions. It'll be cold, I know that.
DS is bouncing off the walls, not going to bed. He is late taking his Lantus, and has decided he needs a snack of two cups of milk. That means just about two units of Novolog, too. He took 15 units for the home-made pizza. I figured out that each 1/8 of a pizza slice is about 43 carbs. I want him to become carb savvy so that he can take more control of the situation. I know in time that he will. He's already doing well for only having been on insulin for a little over 2 months.
So, now it's time for bed!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
By: Rabindranath Tagore
In desperate hope I go and search for her in all the corners of
my room; I find her not.
My house is small and what once has gone from it can never be
But infinite is thy mansion, my lord, and seeking her I have to
come to thy door.
I stand under the golden canopy of thine evening sky and I lift
my eager eyes to thy face.
I have come to the brink of eternity from which nothing can
vanish--no hope, no happiness, no vision of a face seen through
Oh, dip my emptied life into that ocean, plunge it into the
deepest fullness. Let me for once feel that lost sweet touch in
the allness of the universe.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Info on the Stair Climb, and the site for Cystic Fibrosis:
(Also, be sure to click on In Memory of Jennifer Lynn Thanem...)