Men at Work

Men at work. The beautiful. amazing, and dare I say, unusual thing about these scenes are that the men are working quietly, and getting exercise and fresh air, not to mention gaining a sense of accomplishment. Who doesn’t love clean gutters?! Um, well, I don’t think about them very often, so I guess love is going overboard. I’m not even sure what terrible things might occur if water and leaves were to coexist in our gutters. Of course I realize that the gutters would become clogged, and water would run down the side of the house, and not neatly through the downspouts. It’s just not the sort of thing this blogger thinks about often. I also did my small part today: I planned my morning so that I had those extra ten minutes to walk to the gym instead of driving. Not only did I get fresh air there and back, but because I was on foot, had a chance to have a 1.5 minute conversation with a friend I rarely see while she was stuck at the red light. (This pleasant impromptu meeting does confirm my fear that it is best not to walk when feeling antisocial. There is no sensible route that doesn’t involve crossing one of the main roads in town, while standing out in the open for several minutes. Yes, I can be a real hermit at times.)

It helps not to be a perfectionist if you are going to have DIY leaf removal with the assistance of two guys in their teens.

Gutter Guy by Circespeaks

Gutter Guy by Circespeaks

Thanks to one of our volunteers, another few piles of leaves were raked up and stuffed into compostable bags. At some point they will be removed by the town crews. What a big fuss over leaves on lawns! Since I have my noise issues–which I now know is a condition called misophonia that I share with many others–I do need to check the calendar and be sure to be elsewhere when the leaf collection vehicles come scraping and beeping by sometime soon again. It was, I promise, more than my imagination: they really were here off and on from 7am to almost 4pm last time. Had I only known, I would have planned to be elsewhere.

Young Man Wielding Ancient Implement by Circespeaks

Young Man Wielding Ancient Implement by Circespeaks

And now that the leaves are gutter free, two guys at work have begun, and almost completed, another seasonal ritual: putting up the Christmas lights. When we moved here from North County, San Diego, and kept up the tradition of festooning the house–not just the tree–with lights, I was sure that this would be looked upon as terribly déclassé. Much to my surprise, neighborhood friends and acquaintances often remark upon how much they enjoy our Christmas lights. And those who find them cheap and tacky are probably kind enough to keep such thoughts to themselves :-) These days a peace symbol joins the lights. Though Dr. Bronner–whose philosophy I must research one day–doesn’t live here, and we don’t proselytize “All One God Faith,” the peace symbol includes one and all. Didn’t someone called Tiny Tim once say something similar at the end of a book by Charles Dickens? Am I already getting into the holiday mood?

Peace,

Circe

The Day After: Another Protest

No, as far as I know, it’s not the “End Times” or anything like that. For many of us, this is a quiet day of restoration and relaxation. Not for those who work or shop on Black Friday. Have we become so trivial that everyone in the United States knows that is a day of shopping? I understand why Christians set aside a day for Good Friday (even though I must often explain what the “good” part of crucifixion is, and why it is not instead called “Bad Friday.”) I do not understand how our culture has become so superficial that we have a National Day of Insane Shopping!

I took an online pledge not to shop on Thanksgiving, and I’m not sure what someone would have to do to convince me to participate in the entire Black Friday fracas. Yes, I admit it: I don’t like shopping. Consumerism makes me feel fairly ill. Why does our economy have to be built on throw-away items that need to be frequently replaced? It is largely forging ahead without me.

Today was spent working, visiting with friends and family, at the gym (which also involves visiting with friends) and now, having sent off yet another version of a document on which I have been working for months, I think I am going to rest with a book or my headphones, but away from all screens until it is time to get up and do it again. May the leftovers suffice! Since no one in this family has even ventured into a grocery store, they will have to. What was really missing from today was a nice, long walk.

My sincerest apologies for causing a crisis in the global economy. Could it be I am having delusions of grandeur and really need a nap?! No doubt Walmart did just fine without me.

Here’s to the semi-simple life. Naturally a bit hyper, this takes some effort for me.

Circe, put the lid down on the laptop. This post is not even an imperfectly formed essay, haiku (which I just almost spelled highku…) poem, or anything, but some thoughts on consumerism and my personal resistance to being totally sucked into the dementor thought process of “BUY..BUY…BUY.”

As American as Apple Pie

Home Made Apple Pie by Circespeaks

Home Made Apple Pie by Circespeaks

My son and I made apple pie. We even made the crust from scratch. I was surprised at how good he was at this until her reminded me that he is a ceramicist. Used to working with clay, he is very good at pounding and crimping doughy substances. We won’t fire this particular creation, though.

How American we are is another matter. Of his four grandparents, only one was born in the United States. Thanksgiving is, however, an easy holiday to adopt. Though I do confess that in my childhood home there was very little discussion of the Indigenous North Americans who made the original–if much mythologized–Thanksgiving real. That was a school event, and practiced more assiduously by my children’s teachers than my own.

Did your family or school teachers remind you of the origins of Thanksgiving? Or did you all gather, thankful for family and food, and dwell instead on the present or on the religious overtones that Thanksgiving–originally, I believe, a secular holiday–has taken on?

Wishing everyone a warm and peaceful Thanksgiving, with good and wholesome food to eat!

Circe

Haikus: High School Redux

High School Redux

Wearing blue sweater,
Laughing, leaning against tree–
Forever fall day.

Sister’s purple room,
Entwined in discovery–
Lethargic at school.

Basketball warmup,
Entangled, breathless on mats–
The gym door slammed shut.

Christmas gift in hand,
Eggnog nutmeg forgetful–
We reignited.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/challenge-haiku/#more-48826

Monday Run Day

The Path by Circespeaks

The Path by Circespeaks

Monday run day. I am moving fast today. Lots to do. I started out on a walk that turned into a run, which is a good metaphor for the way this day is going.
In the course of walking and running, I mostly avoided roads with traffic, and took the routes of humanly constructed nature: the path by the brook to the loop around a big soccer field. Of course asphalt loops and soccer fields, like fields of any kind–are not real nature, but they beat concrete and battling with cars for a corner of pavement. I have discovered my best path out of the house, without using my car, while spending the least amount of time crossing streets or in any way thinking about cars and traffic.
I am not a runner. My idea of why to run is to chase a ball or a kid. But I find myself not exactly out of shape, but not in the best shape for the upcoming ski season, and life in general, so am adding running (yes, jogging, but hasn’t that word been retired?) back into my routine as much as overused soccer knees will allow.
Do you remember wearing a winter coat when you were little? Not a ski jacket, but a coat, for occasions when your parent decided that you should look “cute” or be dressed up a bit? I do. Mine was red, with big red buttons, and my arms didn’t move that well in it. I felt repressed when wearing it. The pictures confirm that I did look cute, but from the inside, it did not feel good. Today’s run was unplanned, so though dressed in yoga pants and running shoes, I was also wearing a wool coat on top. When I arrived at the loop and saw other people running, and not in long, graceful sinuous motion, either, I decided that I didn’t care what I was wearing: today I would start to add running back into my non-runner’s workout routine. Of course, I happened to pick the coldest morning of the year thus far to start my running program. But it is so much easier to just do something spontaneously, even without every detail in place, than to plan so carefully that I set up mental roadblocks. The running program and the renewed commitment to being outside, but away from traffic are separate, and consistent. So, whether the knee with big staples from a 15-year-old ACL reconstruction, or the knee without object too much for me to do this often, I will resignedly keep walking.

Today my path will lead to a place I both do, and do not, want to go. It is not the physical place about which I have mixed emotions. The story is not mine to tell, and no online source is truly anonymous, but in brief: I will be visiting a very close friend today. One of my friend’s two children, not a young child, but a young person, is very ill. Will I provide comfort? Will we be able to meet, enjoy ourselves, reminisce, without making devastating illness the focus of our afternoon, or is that a ridiculous proposition.

Please, any of you who has a child who is ill, or a close friend with a child who is ill, provide me with guidance. Illness is never so devastating as when it strikes the “wrong” generation of a family. The young person may be present, or be off enjoying time with other family members. “How are you doing?”, a most common of English phrases, takes on a weight and unintended meaning in a situation like this one. And there is the discomfort that comes with knowing that I am as susceptible to this, or any other scourge, as the next person. But this is not about me. It is not about illness. It is about meeting a close friend of many years face-to-face and heart-to-heart. May my heart lead me. Only intuition, or guidance from a source greater than myself, and not rehearsed dialogue can help me to be the person I need to be today. I will keep my ears, eyes, and all senses wide open, and I will know what my friend needs from his old friend. Please hold me in the light this afternoon.

Sleepy Son Sunday!

Yay! He’s back. After a day in a diner and Burlington Public Library, and finally getting on the bus at 4  or 4:30, and then the train, and home after midnight. Yes, he is at a state school, and they are quite serious about kicking everyone out of the dorms, and closing down for the break. But when you are 18, it’s not a big deal.

Having packed no food at all for the journey, he was very happy to have grilled cheese and green smoothie and SleepyTime tea at 1:30 am last night (or this morning.) SleepyTime tea? What was I thinking?! Once I was properly hugged, and the food was downed, he was off with friends. He is not the one we call “Thumper,” and manages to tiptoe upstairs, and into bed without bothering me, so I have no idea what time the reunion celebration ended.

Dad made pancakes for breakfast. He was the one who discovered the best pancakes ever: we add pears (when we have them at home, but I bought some nice ones a few days ago, with return of son in mind) as well as bananas. Banana pear pancakes are a recipe I recommend. Not a sweet eater, even though maple syrup is a flavor I love, and we have Vermont maple syrup from a summer’s farmer’s market, I eat my pancakes out of hand. And I’m not sure I didn’t eat more than my share.

When I lived in California, and would come back East to visit, my dad would (so helpfully, he thought?) wake me up in the morning so I could “get on a good schedule.” I never did, and never really have been, so that always annoyed me. Never able to fall asleep before 4am after sitting in a plane all day, and then coping with a three-hour time difference, I didn’t appreciate the effort. Now I can consider that maybe he just wanted to see me. But I think he was just acting on misguided principle. I kind of think so. It bothered him that I should be sleeping at the “wrong” time. So no matter how much I may want to see the young man upstairs, I am going to “let it ride.” Nor am I going to tell him “You can’t go out at 2am!” To the contrary: he did, and probably had a very good time.

We had an amusing exchange before he left: Somehow the name of an old friend, who turned out to have briefly been a girlfriend during middle school years, came up. One of the people he went out with last night was “Ian,” his best friend since seventh grade. K then mentioned that ‘Jane” had dated “Ian” longer than he had. (What he meant to say was that Ian had dated Jane longer than  he had.) I retorted that this was not true. You, I said, have been going out with Ian longer than anyone! He laughed and agreed.

Lest anyone misread the tiniest hint of gay bashing into our conversation, there was none. We have a family rich with family members all over the sexuality spectrum. It reflects the human species pretty well that way. K’s college room mate is gay. When moving out of a miserable dorm room situation a straight, but preppie and annoying room mate, K, who happens to be straight, chose his room mate because they are friends, old camp friends. So LGBTQA friends: You are very welcome to my blog. LGBT objectors: This will probably not be a comfortable space for you. In this family, we celebrate the recent decision out of Illinois to allow gay marriage. If all the guys in the Bible had multiple wives–or were (supposedly) celibate, and we believe that, of course?–what is all the fuss about? The Bible most emphatically does not present marriage as between one man and one woman. People should neither be exclusively defined by, nor in any way punished for their sexual orientation. There is so much more to all of us.

I confess, I did not read the presumably pathetic email from some organization that pumps out pablum for parents of college students returning home for the first time. (Very pathetically middle class mush.) I’m sure I will make mistakes, but my plan is simple: provide food, be flexible, hope he has fun, and hope we are included in some of the fun.

There is creaking in the staircase :-)

So I thought. Instead there is young man adjusting and enjoying himself in his own way, in his own time: first drumming and now keys serenade. I am content. But isn’t he hungry? If he hadn’t gone fourteen hours straight without food yesterday, I would think so, but I am going to trust that hunger will bring him down eventually. And that if he was in the mood for talking, he would. It must be glorious to be alone after so much forced togetherness!