Our holiday weekend was a delightful mixed bag. My only agenda Thanksgiving Eve was a long bubble bath and the next day we had a leisurely brunch before driving south to visit family. At my mother’s, the girls got to experience boxed chocolate covered cherries and Zenyatta Mondatta on the record player. With my husband’s extended family my youngest really enjoyed brandied pears with her Great Aunt. We went for a walk in the woods and explored the newly frozen pond. There was no snow but the stream running down the hill was iced just right for tobogganless sledding. The open fields surrounding the old barn were bitter cold but wonderful. The girls collected softened crab apples for cooking in the playhouse. I want our children to know the best parts of our own childhood traditions.
My husband and I watched The Thin Red Line, Terrence Malick being as good at Thanksgiving as any other time, and ate too much leftover dessert and assorted soft cheeses (well, I did anyway). I took a nap and did a lot of reading and used a store changing room without other people in it! It was even a fancy one with curtains and flattering lighting and a velvety chair, which made me consider taking another nap. Instead, I just enjoyed that there weren’t three little girls fighting over the one phone app I allow them to use ever (I call it the changing room app. But I make them mute it– the noises just sound wrong coming out of a room where someone’s undressing.) I had a much needed evening out with my best friend, running through the frigid streets of Saratoga to make our way into someplace dimly lit and warm where we could soak in the good things of friendship.
Tradition can be so good. But so can spontaneity and just winging it. Each year, I find more and more that a little of each makes for the best holiday. Children like tradition and I’m happy to see how eager they are to do it again, whatever it may be. Tradition should never become a dreadful obligation. If it is, you’re doing it wrong. Mix it up. Stealing away for an hour to listen to the water rushing under the ice, touching the different textures of its many formations, made going back into the toasty little house full of familiar faces all the more enjoyable. An impromptu visit elsewhere that weekend brought with it conversation that remained with me long after we left, moments I could not have planned. The past and those things which we know so well are always there, steady and comfortable, but I never want to miss out on something new and unexpected, here and now. Even if I have to fly by the seat of my pants to make it happen.
Flurries fall, wind shifts my frame. Light drains from the sky and I feel time pressing in. Yesterday the sky in the evening was all heat and brilliance. Today pale clouds rolled in with the morning and waited, heavy. There is no sunset tonight, only dark. I walk with fingers toward the earth, ice surprising, feet under water. I should have known I would sink. Should know this is simply November and only a passing storm but I cannot reduce it to that when the wind makes me feel transparent. Raging waves come at me unconcerned with the limit imposed by the thin line that separates. I run, turn, let all this fill me. Alone with an impending storm and with tears from the bitterness of the air. The weight of clouds drapes the mountains and wraps me in cold caressing. This will run its course, leave me breathless. I will close my eyes on dreams like seaglass, a shiver. November cannot stay. Continue reading
I think the most overused scripture in Christian women’s circles is the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs. After years of listening to teachings about the virtuous wife, I found myself starting to absolutely loathe her. I learned to tune out whenever I heard the words Biblical womanhood. I found this easily as predictable as my first day of Feminist Literature in college when the professor read aloud a story centering around a turkey baster. Surely there’s more to talk about. But I recognized that the problem wasn’t the Bible or what it has to say about women. It was a consistently narrow interpretation and limited scope of study. Like Christian women are supposed to take a pink highlighter to all the girly passages and leave the rest to the men and the ministers. Continue reading
Beautiful is a line
an open invitation
from 40,000 feet
places we stood
cold and crystal
During my trip to Rwanda, machetes were everywhere, being used for a variety of purposes. Chopping down trees, weeding, planting seeds, butchering cows and goats. Machetes seem to be the multi-tool of Rwanda. It is difficult to disassociate the obvious connection with the genocide that took place two decades ago but in the hands of laborers machetes were simple tools to get the job done. Even so, it was surprising to see them being used by children. I watched a small child skillfully and efficiently strip a branch of its bark with a machete. The motions and rhythm were familiar, already at this young age. Continue reading
We joined an impromptu hiking party a few days back. Since we had seven homeschooled children between all the families in attendance, we decided it easily qualified as a field trip. We followed the walking trail through the bog near Silver Lake. Continue reading
History lessons can crop up at any time, in any place. We recently came across a thought provoking sight in a city building. O.k., truth is my kids ran right past is without so much as a look. I called them back and told them these pretty gold booths used to house payphones. First question: what’s a payphone? As soon as they had enough facts to go on, they were in there pumping imaginary quarters into invisible phones. They cradled the receivers and chatted in bubbly little voices with their feet propped up against the booths, straight off the pages of a John Hughes’ script. Continue reading
The patterns of cold weather days are comforting, the things we do when living to seek warmth. I like the slow sequence of layering fabric on fabric, slipping on thermals against my skin, heavy jeans, wool socks and boots. Buttoning up a flannel shirt and pulling on a fleece coat. Braiding my hair and tucking it up in a thick hat. Wrapping a scarf once, twice around my neck, pulling on fingerless gloves. Continue reading
Photographs snapped by my 8 and 6 year old daughters from the backseat while driving in Albany. The city through their eyes. Continue reading
Chemistry: a science that deals with the composition, structure, and properties of substances and with the transformations that they undergo.
Our third year of science hits pretty close to home. As I create opportunities for the girls to study various substances, I cannot help but see a parallel in my own life. Questions I ask at the white board or at the kitchen stove resonate in my mind well after the lesson is done. Continue reading
Talking about walking
gets you hot to fight
meet me on the water
two against one
tell me I never arched
tell me billions kill
ready set drill
wax pools on black
from hips and skulls
with your trusty rusty
Times New Roman harpoon
We went to the New York State Museum for school on Friday. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve visited since having children. Enough times that I feel at home when I walk into the lobby. This probably sounds strange but it really isn’t. I still have a pair of wooden painted dinosaur earrings, in blue, from the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit in 1989. As a Kindergartner I was drawn to the shadowed atmosphere of the museum, where the exhibits seemed to exist free of time, in eternity past. For a child, archaeology is heroic, geology– magic. The suspended bones of a nearly mythical monster are divine. Recreations of centuries and cultures past are portals. Continue reading