Monday, September 29, 2008

On the Road Again

I arrived in San Francisco today. While I don't really enjoy business travel, at least I feel some comfort in the familiarity of the place. Land of designer stuff, where few people wear sneakers. (This is only an observation, not a judgment.)

I stay with my friend Romy when I'm here. Her hospitality and company is really what makes the travel bearable. I tried a real hotel a couple times, but it was lonely. She and I visited the Berkeley Bowl (an old haunt) for some groceries this evening. Oh, the shelves of olive oil, cheese, yogurt, and produce. So many choices. The olive bar was singular.

At home, the kids are excited to go grocery shopping with Dad while I'm gone. The last time I left, "he bought us Devil Dogs and gum!" His explanation: "It's hard taking all three of them to the grocery store."

The instruction list I left with them:

  • Water the lettuce in the greenhouse.
  • Make sure the hens have food and water.
  • Remember to take showers.
  • Read.
My guess is that they'll check on the hens, but the lettuce, showers, and reading will all be packed into Friday night, before I come home on Saturday.

So tonight, Romy and I will drink tea and catch up on Mad Men. Then I get to retire under one of Helen Harness's (Romy's mom) beautiful quilts, which the cats will jump on every time I move my feet when I'm sleeping. Home sweet away from home.

(253 words)

Friday, September 26, 2008

For the Love of Books

Mia came home from school today and EXCLAIMED "I checked out a book from our library today! We have the best library ever. I can't wait to use it. It's my favorite place in our school." (It was her first visit.)

How cool is that?

On my own nightstand, the kids and I recently started The Diamond of Darkhold, the fourth book in The City of Ember series, which we all LOVE. Highly recommend the prequels The City of Ember and The People of Sparks for middle-level readers.

I also have a Billy Collins poetry book that I pick up every now and then for some quick enlightenment.

Then there's good old Lee Iacocca's Where Have All the Leaders Gone? (recommended by my old mentor and friend Jim Lutzke). This is hoot of a book, really. Mr. Iacocca completely skewers W, everyone in his service, all his misplaced policies, and especially the war. Funny coming from a rich, white, former oil guy.

A few facts worth sharing: If we took all the trillions we've spent on that war and invested them into our own country, we could...

Hire 8 million teachers or 8 million police, fire, and EMT workers.
Give free health care to everyone for a year.
Provide 25 million college scholarships.
Give Americans free gas for a year.
Build 3 million affordable housing units.


I'm about halfway through, and the book basically advocates most things that I already believe in, so it's not a life-changing read for me. But it's entertaining, candid, mindboggling at times, and easy to read. Recommended.

(268 words)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nature Walk

It's another perfect fall day in Vermont today -- two in a row. So I thought I'd go outside today...

Last week, I taught a "Four Winds" nature unit to Max and his Kindergarten classmates. The subject was, in Max's words, how animals find their way. This is my fifth year of teaching these monthly classes, starting with Mia in Kindergarten. Since I'd worked my way up to third and fourth graders last year, I'd forgotten how darn cute those little ones are in Four Winds. They all want to tell lengthy stories -- usually completely unrelated to the subject. Before last week's lesson, I asked the class to tell me about some of their classroom rules: "Don't wiggle around too much." "Don't hit other people." These weren't actually the class rules, but they were good ones anyway.

Other than the curiosity in the kids themselves, the greatest thing about these classes is the stuff I've learned. Here are a few things I know now that I didn't two weeks ago:

  • Digger wasps don't sting, but they find their way back to their ground holes using nearby landmarks.
  • After their adventures out in the ocean, salmon find their way back to the stream in which they were born by the stream's smell.
  • Some migrating birds use the low-pitched sounds of crashing waves to help follow coastlines.
Cool stuff to know.

So I'm going to rely on my own landmarks and sense of direction to head out and visit my garden and hens for a few minutes before I check in to work this morning. Hopefully, I'll find my way but lose track of time!

(277 words)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Advice for the Young

I didn't really have a clear idea of what I wanted to write about today. I was feeling contracted at the end of the day yesterday -- a difficult day at work, and someone said something to me that I really took issue with. Tom suggested I just blog about how grouchy I was feeling. (Thank you to Tom for noticing that I was grouchy and for offering a solution. In another solid effort to redirect me, he also suggested we play tennis or walk the dogs today.)

Blogging seemed like a real downer for any readers though. So I tried oatmeal, yoga, dusting, and getting organized with work instead to help myself recover. Aren't these things the answer to everything? God how I wish Coke and brownies were the real answer to pulling yourself out of a funk.

Then I remembered some advice someone once gave me when my brain was working overtime processing some negativity. "What advice would you give you daughter -- because it probably isn't the same advice that you’re giving yourself?" As it turns, the advice for Mia was clearer, simpler, and damn good, if I may say so.

So today, I'm going to practice that I'm a fickle, moody, funny, prepubescent, loving 10 year old, and I'm going to give me some advice for dealing with the world. Wonder if I'll actually follow up on it?

(232 words)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Will of Will

"Time is a mother's enemy."

Will turns nine today. He was born in 1999 in the early afternoon, with a big head and big set of lungs. We had a relatively peaceful labor and birth, following by nearly four years of not so much peace. He was a strong-willed youngster, prone to meltdowns and head-to-head confrontations

In quieter times, he was a funny little boy. He frequently allowed his sister to dress him up -- as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, or a Buzz Lightyear fairy. And he was always walking around in other people's shoes.

A few "Willisms" from the family history books:

MOM: "You're a good boy."
WILL: "Mommy's a good boy too."

MOM: "Who did you play with at school today?"
WILL: "Nobody. I just played with myself, which is named Will. You know that guy, don't you? "You're driving him home right now."

Then there was the time when he burst into tears when we told him he probably couldn't be King when he grows up.

Today, he has returned to a more peaceful person. He's friendly, affectionate, smart, sweet, and observant in ways you don't immediately realize. He has the mind of a steel trap, and he thinks his dad is really funny. His teacher calls him a little old man. But he's only/already nine! Two weeks ago, I dropped him at a birthday party, and for the first time, he wouldn't give me a hug when I left. He actually said, "No, mom" and walked away. So I guess all that's starting.

Today, Tom started the morning off with the Beatles' birthday song. ("Oh no, here comes the song," said Mia.) Will has requested cinnamon rolls for his class treat. And after school, he'll visit the orthodontist and taekwondo studio. A typical day, but one where he can finally be King.

(309 words)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ghost No More

I've been a ghostwriter most of my professional life. Writing in the name of other people or companies. A few bylines here and there, a few journal entries. But little writing just for me. I was thinking the other day that if I my job ceased to exist, and I didn't have the opportunity to write something everyday -- to feed the addiction to my laptop -- then I just might feel a void. (This could, of course, be just another one of those girl-after-40, kids-in-school vacancies.)

That very same day, my joyous friend Romy suggested I write a blog after I told her about the weary details of my day. (She didn't think the details were so weary, I guess.)

Then a co-worker sent me a link to her blog about moving to Germany.

The Higher Power of Blogging covertly aligned in my world, so now here I am.

My goal for this blog/journal/download/dump is at least 200 words a blog. (Ideally, I'd write 200 words a day, but I'm not sure I can commit to that yet.) About anything that strikes my fancy, passes though my conscience, or should be shared. I may bore you with the pursuits of Mia, Will, and Max (the children), the vexations of Tom (the loving spouse), or the antics of Kobe, Kip, Pixie, and The Girls (the pets). But I promise to try to use the word "vex" wherever possible because it doesn't get enough airplay.

(Word count: 243. That was easy!)