Perhaps it has to do with this brief interlude between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this small period of calm between storms, but I actually feel like getting things organized. I have a thousand pairs of mittens to knit, plus a scarf and a sweater or too. I have ideas about the kitchen, and we need a new chair or something to improve the seating in the sitting area of the dining room. Not to mention my desk at work.

I can’t explain it, but I’ll try to take advantage of it while it lasts. I predict it will not last long.

Through the wringer


N left yesterday and we are slowing pulling our shattered lives back together. — Just kidding, but it does feel like a tornado has just blown through. And it’s what, three weeks til the whole thing happens all over again.

It was great to see them. I have been to the post office twice to mail back forgotten items.

I think the weirdest thing is that as they get older I feel like they’re viewing me the way I view our parents, which is only natural, but still a little disconcerting. You know, the people who don’t exactly have their fingers on the pulse of the way things work.

On the other hand, it’s pretty great that they’re both doing well — that M is happy in school and that N is capably finding her way. As hard as it is to let go of being responsible for them, it also means I’m no longer (well, almost, in M’s case) responsible for them.

And that is kind of great.

I’m free to begin my travels, much like the man in the picture above.

Winding down


It always happens this way — I think about holidays as being far away, and then suddenly they’re here. I’m at work this morning, but then leaving to go home and hang out with M.

Wednesday I have to come in for a few hours, but otherwise I think I’m going to be busy making pies.

Before you know it it’ll be a week from today —

Okay — gotta run.



What a pleasant Sunday!

M slept late, so I, and the rest of the world, slipped out for a walk.

It’s been raining a lot, in fact it rained all day Saturday, so everything is greening up.


Later, we sat on the couch and watched Firefly, while I knitted a mitten. We ordered thai food for dinner.

M has a terrible cough. I think she needs to conserve her strength by sleeping, eating a lot, and doing not much of anything.



Stars’ Hollow

M is coming home tonight, so after a morning of knitting on the couch watching Firefly (which is good!), when the rain let up and when I had messed up a round, I pulled myself off the couch and went down to the grocery store . . .

. . . where I felt like I had wandered into Stars’ Hollow. The parking lot was packed, and there were people all over, including yawning parents watching their children in some kind of bouncy castle. A band of mild-aged people played Janice Joplin songs outside the door. Inside, everwhere you turned was another person offering you a slice of ham, or a piece of a cookie, or a spoonful of soup. I picked up a wreath at the door and had to wrestle it through the crowded aisles. I expected Taylor Doose to accost me around every corner.

It feels like the holidays, and M is coming in tonight and N later in the week, and the grey skies and rain, oddly, I know, make everything seem more festive.

I paid for my groceries — the checker I like the most flashed me a peace sign when I raised my eyebrows at him, in a WTF sort of sign — and got back to the car to see that a fancy car, a Lincoln, I think, was parked next to me, so I pulled out very carefully. It’s not the kind of fancy car you usually see around here, and it made me think of my dad.

My actual father died when I was four, so the father-figure for most of my childhood was my first stepfather, the man my mother married on my 5th birthday. He was a funny guy — a business man with 5 children before he acquired my mother and me and then had two more. He was not a great dad. He worked in the city and was gone long hours and was fairly absent even when he was around. I think he didn’t have much of an example to follow, since his own father, a musician, had disappeared when he was pretty young. It was only much later, when I was already an adult, that he became aware that his father had not abandoned him, but gone off to Arizona to die of Huntington’s disease. His mother, and his mother’s family with whom he grew up, did not seem like very warm or kind people.

I was never very close to him. The five older kids seemed to me to have much more of a claim on him, so I made myself scarce. I think I may also have not wanted him to feel like he had to like me. When I grew older I could imagine nothing worse than being a business man in any case. He didn’t read much. He was a Republican. I was kind of embarrassed by his hearty good nature, which felt put-on to me.

However, there were a few things he taught me that have stuck with me to this day, and make me think that there may have been more to him than I ever gave him credit for. One, when I was about 6, he explained to me the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans, he explained, wanted to figure out what was not working in government and fix those things. Democrats just wanted to throw the whole thing over and change everything. I’ve always been a fairly conservative person, so I told him that I was a Republican. He laughed, and told me that that was because a Republican had explained the difference to me. Two, when I idly asked one time why poor people so often bought such expensive cars. Wouldn’t it be better, I thought, to save that money and instead buy something more useful, like a better house? He explained that if you’re very poor, you don’t have the money to buy a nice house, but you want something nice and you do have the money to buy a fancy car. It’s the one thing you can buy to make yourself look rich. The way he explained it seemed very sensible — you’d never be able to buy a house in the expensive suburbs, but you could have a damn fine car. Third, when he had fallen on hard times and was working for himself in an office building in our small city, and not the big city, he told me that the lottery was a terrible case of regressive taxation. Connecticut had just voted in the lottery, and my feeling was that if people were stupid enough to play the lottery it was their own fault. He told me, “I see who’s buying the lottery tickets, and it’s not the people who can afford to buy them.” And for my 18th birthday, he bought me the Norton anthology of poetry, which made me cry. I was about to go off to college to be an English major, and it was probably the first and maybe only present I received which acknowledge my aspirations.

He really was not a great dad — he was not supportive to his children, generally, and was pretty self-absorbed. Most of his actual children remember him with some degree of anger. I never felt close enough to him to actually be disappointed in him. I never actually expected much from him to begin with. But he was right about some things.

Happy beginning of the holiday season!

On my way in this morning . . .

. . . I saw:

A man, not from here, I would say, holding his sleepy young daughter on his lap across the aisle from me on the bus. She was dressed in purple with sparkly pink sneakers. He had a South American-looking woven scarf and a worn brown corduroy jacket with fashionable pockets. When the bus emptied a bit, he set her down on the seat next to him. From a pocket in his backpack he extracted a small pink hairbrush with a princess on the back. He gently brushed her hair, then fished around in his coat pocket for a hair tie and gathered her hair into a pony tail. She did not complain.

Next to him, a well dressed middle aged Asian man appeared to be fast asleep.

Next to me, another Asian man, just before exiting the bus, took out a opaque transparent portfolio and unzipped it. The bottom, I noticed, was made of fabric with a small blue floral pattern.

Two girls who got on with me carried on their conversation in Chinese, standing right in front of the door oblivious to everything, until they got off. One was wearing bright orange Hunter boots and a navy blue scarf with little chickens on it. The other had bright pink sleeves.

On the patio outside the cafe, a young man in a Cal yarmulke read something on his laptop.

A day of surprising and delightful signifiers.

Not hemmed in by trees


I’m just going to keep showing you pictures of Kansas for a while. I’ve got some more from the town that are nice, too.

My mother is from North Dakota, so such an empty landscape is not completely foreign to me. We used to go to my grandparents’ lake cottage in Minnesota every summer, and I remember that there would come a time every spring in Connecticut where I would feel too hemmed in by trees and would really crave that empty sky that you find on the prairie. I think it may be called the plains in North Dakota, although it seems very similar to me.

But as I was wandering around Harleyville, population 286 or something, I wondered — what do the people who live here do? A woman from Kansas City thought they probably commuted in to Topeka to work at Walmart. And I wondered if I could live in such a place. I really like the country, but would I miss movies and like-minded people and good restaurants? Mass transit? It’s a question.

If you do it right, you’re in the country but not too far from things like airports. Lawrence is near by. There is food and movies there.

It is a thing, though — I was just reading that people have picked up and moved to live near other people who think like them, so you have the very liberal coasts and the pretty conservative red states. It used to be that more people stayed put, and you had more purple areas. Apparently.

Anyway. Questions remains.