November 9, 2016

Contrasting Days

This photo was taken yesterday when we spent the day in Baltimore eating crab cakes, blowing glass, rolling down hills, and seeing art made out of food. It was a great day with my mom, my kids, and one of Noah's friends. It was sunny and we were savoring every minute of it.

This morning is dreary, rainy, cold, and scary. The election results will have a direct impact on our family. A family with a daughter born in a different country and with darker skin. A Jewish family. A military family. A family of artists. A family with members wounded by war and members born with special challenges. A family with trans friends, gay friends, immigrant friends, and friends who are survivors of sexual assault and abuse. A family with members who are struggling to put food on the table. I want to have hope about the future, I really do, but right now I am reeling and wondering what is ahead for all of us.  

October 23, 2016

October List

The View From Our Front Door

For Seasonal Snacking: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
For Haunting (and crying): Ghosts 
For Reading: The Underground Railroad and Chains
For Sunday Night Viewing: The Durells in Corfu
For Calculating: Math24
For Cold-Weather Cooking: 50 Instant Pot Recipes
For Making Music: The Schnick Machine
For Seeing Live: The Blues Project
For Meditating:  Insight Timer

October 10, 2016

Thirteen: Ryan and Noah

These goofy boys have been cracking me up since they were second graders in Sicily. Ryan's family moved to the DC area this summer and needless to say there have been plenty of sleep-overs, silly songs, ridiculous memes, obnoxious dabbing, gaming, texting, puns, and even some nostalgic beyblading. There's something very special about military friendships and it makes me happy to see this one still going strong (here's a peek of them back in 2013). So hard to believe they are teenagers now. 

October 7, 2016

Our View

Lines and letters intersecting, twisting, and coming together in a collaboration between art and poetry; artist and viewers; mother and child. 

 We spent the afternoon at The Hirschhorn circumnavigating Linn Meyer's striking work, "Our View From Here". Ever since watching the time lapse video of how Meyer's installed the piece of the course of many weeks, I had been itching to see it up close, but I had no idea that it would have such a big impact on both of us. As if we were being pulled out to sea on a rip tide, we were immediately sucked into its alluring currents and caught up in a surreal scenery composed of lively black lines.  

On impulse, when leaving the house earlier in the day, I had tossed two post-it note pads into my backpack along with sketchbooks and oranges. Halfway through the circular gallery space, I dug the tiny yellow pads out and we each continued to work our way through the piece with the added task of jotting down words that came to mind. We eventually met back at the beginning of the circle, claimed two comfy black chairs and started to collaborate on a poem. 

Moving sticky notes around on blank sketch books, but eventually transitioning to the floor so we could really play with them. Selecting the ones we both loved the most, setting aside those that might or might not work, shifting combinations until it sounded right to both of us. I loved how different our words were and yet, how beautifully they worked together to form a satisfying little nugget of our experience. It is essentially our very own "view from here". 

Our View

Undulating ripples
Peacock vortex
Tangled rainbow whorl

To a point

Swirling, swooping, cascading, pulsing
Lines, lines, lines, lines

by Camille (age 10) and Lucia (age 43)
Inspired by Linn Meyer's "Our View From Here"
The Hirschhorn, October 7, 2016 

October 4, 2016

Historical Bits and Pieces

We have been spending a lot of time immersed in the Colonial period: visiting a variety of living history parks/ national historic sites; reading journals, texts, and historical fiction; and working our way through the fabulous PBS "reality show", Colonial House. I have always been a voyeur and this recent historical immersion process has really been fascinating. Our visit to Yorktown, Virginia last month was filled with nitty gritty details, artifacts, and ephemera. A haunting little cradle with hand-made dollies, a green mug left on a bench by a Colonial farmer who had probably been resting between chores, maps and navigational tools inside an officer's tent, disturbing medical tools and Colonial era treatments, flax and hops plants growing in the garden, and hand-hewn tools. Sometimes the folks working in these historical re-creations are excellent, sometimes they are weird, but regardless of the staffing, the physical items from daily life always catch my eye and plunge me back into day dreaming about what it must have been like to struggle and hope during that stage in our country's history. ***All of the staff at York Town were great! and I highly recommend a visit, especially in Spring of 2017 when the new museum will be open and the expansion of the living history park will be complete. 

October 1, 2016

A Letter For Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah feels like it crept up on me this year, swirling in with the messiness of September and endless days of rain. It starts tomorrow night. Usually by this time, I will have stacked up a pile of holiday books, dug out our shofars, and have big bowls filled with apples as seasonal decor. But none of those things have happened yet, and they may not. This time of year always involves intense juggling of schedules while attempting to craft together a rhythm that works for everyone. That intensity increased when we made the decision several years ago to become a family that lives in both the homeschool (Camille) world and the traditional school world (Noah). And for some reason this year feels even more overwhelming. I have been puzzled by that feeling because although both kids have fairly busy schedules, we have actually cut back on their after-school activities and I have been diligent about trying to take of myself with daily yoga/meditation and regular yoga classes. I think that feeling of unease is related to a larger sense of uncertainty hovering in my conscious and unconscious mind. 

We are entering our final year in the DC area and that always brings with it a slew of mixed feelings and preparatory anxiety. We have lived here longer than anywhere else in our history as a military family, so the roots are a bit deeper and twistier, and digging them up will be painful. We are also facing a move back to Japan with much older children and a crazy muppet of a dog. There are more emotional, physical, and logistical details than in our previous international moves. But I in addition to those moving-related worries, I am feeling a deeper sense of concern about the current state of our world...wars that never seem to end; racism that seeps, stings, and slays; the upcoming election; illnesses that attack with a vengeance; natural disasters that change lives overnight; and disconnection, apathy, and insularity. 

Needless to say, I haven't been sleeping well or living with a light heart lately. And that's exactly why Brain Picking's feature about E.B. White's letter came at just the right moment this week. E.B. White is one of my favorite writers and this letter of his is something I want carry with me right now. Perhaps something everyone should be carrying with them right now. I am tucking it into my pocket as we prepare to enter into this contemplative period of the Jewish High Holy Days. Wind the clock, sprout seeds of goodness, and maintain hope for a sweet new year. L'shanah Tovah! 

Dear Mr. Nadeau:
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
E. B. White

Williamsburg, Virginia, September 2016