the biggest frustration…

of traveling with a dog, is that she can’t hold the wheel for a while so that I can take pictures. And so far, the eastern highways are not conducive to just pulling over to take a shot. The Shenandoah mountains, the rolling hills of West Virginia, the stunningly beautifully groomed farms of Kentucky, all undocumented.

But a stroke of luck in St. Louis! A traffic jam. Full stop. It’s not much, but at least it “captures the moment,” as Kodak and my students would have it.

St. Louis Traffic Jam

St. Louis Traffic Jam

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the deep tug of home…

We’ve all had that feeling, of half waking and wondering where we are…especially when we travel.

Don’t get me wrong…I love the firm wide beds of the Quinta’s and Comforts, the Hampton’s and the Day’s; the plethora of pillows, the wide screen TV’s with HBO and Showtime!!

But deep in sleep, when I turn on my left side, I am dismayed to find there is no gentle breeze from my window blowing across my face. And on my right, when I look to the wall to orient myself with the bamboo print that Susan brought back from her first trip to China, it isn’t there. And for a moment, I am lost.

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Back to the blog…

Finally had a moment to update my ancient and decrepit WordPress…hoping that the update works…this is a test.


Testing 1,2,3.

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the return of the light…

It happens subtly and then you notice. It is light now when I wake at seven. When I left my office the other day after five, the sun was lingering on the horizon. And midday, the light has shifted…more properly the earth has shifted on its inexorable way to the spring equinox, and unaccountably, I feel lighter. Despite the sub-freezing temps, the snow piled so high I can see out my front door to check on the weather; despite the single trail in the snow in my back yard that my dog has made so that she can poop in private behind the shed, and despite the icy slick surfaces that make it impossible for us to walk, and toxic salt crystals sprinkled everywhere, that insert themselves between her toes and sting like the dickens, in spite of all this, I know spring is coming. And with it light and warmth and soft breezes, green and growth.

Snow Piles

Snow Piles

I have been trying to imagine what it must have been like for primitive people to weather these kinds of winters and worse, burrowed into their shelters, huddling together for warmth, praying for their food stores to last, making the best of the few hours of light to hunt and gather, and waiting. Waiting for the return of the light. And I imagine that their sense of hope and optimism and lightness also began to soar at this time, with the knowledge that this dark and cold place will soon be a distant memory, just like mine.

Snowy Yard

Snowy Yard

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On giving thanks…

The picked over turkey carcass is sitting on the counter, waiting to become soup, and the dregs of my sister’s cranberry sauce calls to me from the overstuffed fridge. Three turkey dinners this year-the one the night before, because my mother was off to Dallas with her new beau she met on J-dates, and my sister off to Maine with her family; a wonderful Thanksgiving the day of with family in Brookline; and the one my ex and her partner hosted the day after for a handful of misfits;–All having been negotiated and ultimately survived….

and yet I can’t help but wonder about all those Thanksgivings past: in our house in Peekskill, the kids’ table extending out into the living room, the juices of the cole slaw Papa made, the perfect dip for the turkey, my mother’s “swedish meatballs” simmering in the chafing dish; noise, chaos, cigarette embers smoldering in random ash trays, the “men” having made their way to the den with their pants unbuckled watching the game, while the “women” cleaned up in the tiny kitchen.

Most of these grownups long dead now, except for my mother, and most of the cousins scattered. It strikes me how profoundly those early years imprint upon us, no matter the intervening decades.

My ex and I had our decades of rituals too: the early years when she and I would eschew all notions of family and head to Vermont to the quiet, almost silent side of the mountain where we rented a house plopped on cinder blocks that looked out at meadows of grazing cows. We’d bundle up in our long johns, and huddle around the wood stove in the kitchen, or just snuggle under the covers…so much to be thankful for then. When Alex came along, we were reminded of just how important family was, and she added her strange–to us New York Jews– Florida traditions––who ever heard of key lime pie on Thanksgiving?––and her wonderful turkey–cooked breast down–ad amazing stuffing–into the mix. Now, years after we have split, my mother insists that Susan bring her a key lime…what would Thanksgiving be without it?

My friend A. in a relatively new relationship, and as she and her new honey try to negotiate the holiday season, they are finding the need to first make space for all the ghosts: how did you do it before? with this one? with that one? Her new honey suggested after they air the rituals of the past that they sweep them all away, leaving a clean, shining floor on which to build their own ways of giving thanks together.

My metaphorical floor, however, is still littered with memories: the moments when my nest was overflowing and not empty, the moments throughout which I was loved and partnered, the moments of rich smells and a warm house, and the ruckus of an extended family…And I wonder how I can find the wherewithal to choose to be here now, in the face of so much past, and to move forward into an unknown future that, if I am lucky, may bring with it the promise of gratefulness.

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The time has come…

…in the silent spaciousness of this frigid winter dusk, I am biting the proverbial blog bullet…I have put off writing long enough. Profundity ain’t comin’ and I gotta start somewhere.

Indecision–Mercury is retrograde, after all–about whether to

  • chronicle my frigid wintry walks with Shanti, (ah remember when you could see the earth and trees had leaves?)
  • or share the joys and woes of the teacher’s life,
  • wax philosophical about my post-family, empty nest stage of life and how it frames my creative process,
  • or just jump to the meta level: blog about blogging and other social networking geegaws,
  • has kept me mute.

    So for now, I just need to start here.

    And hope for the best.

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    a little slow on the uptake….

    Blogging coming soon to a browser near you!

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