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.
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".
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.
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.
Today marks the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and I find myself consciously shutting off news stories, avoiding dreaded images, or actively re-directing conversations about it. Previous anniversaries of this date have never really had much of an impact on me, but for some reason today felt different. And this evening it hit me. It has to do with my dad.
My dad was no where near the twin towers, on a plane, or any where near the Pentagon. On that September day, my dad was in south Louisiana and I was in Washington state. And yet he will always be apart of my memories on that tragic day. It was early on the West Coast and my dad called to make sure we were awake and aware of what was happening. He wasn't the first person to alert us, but he was the one I spoke with the longest that morning. We were on the phone together as the second tower fell. My dad seemed to quickly grasp that our country was about to go into an intense tail spin. In between trying to calm me down, he began to switch into survivalist mode. Trying to figure out ways we could stay in touch if the phones shut down or who we could each contact if we were in trouble. He wanted me to make sure we had batteries and extra water. His response sent me into a bit of my own internal tailspin with dueling emotions...comfort that someone seemed to have some ideas for a plan and fear that things were about to get much worse.
I think today's anniversary hit me because it was a harsh reminder that I can no longer pick up the phone to call my dad when bad things happen. I feel a bit of guilt to think that my reaction today is about grief that isn't even directly related to today's anniversary. And yet, isn't that at the core of today? Reminders of loss, reminders of life continuing to happen, reminders of fear and uncertainty, and a reminder that we were all a bit changed on that day fifteen years ago. And perhaps most importantly our universal human need to be connected, comforted, and protected.
One of the highlights of the day was watching the Tayac Territory Singers and Dancers, members of the Piscataway Indian Nation, led by Mark Tayac son of the current hereditary chief, Chief Billy Tayac. It was hard not to be entranced by their beautiful outfits and their voices singing in Algonquin Piscataway while drumming and dancing. The Piscataway were one of the most populous and powerful tribes in the Chesapeake Bay region north of the Potomac. It was an honor to see them sharing their history and culture today. Want to learn more about the Piscataway? Meet Naiche is a good place to start.
I took a ton of photos during our time in Montreal and yet, this is the one I keep going back to. Don't get me wrong. We loved all of the fabulous museums, the delicious pockets of interesting neighborhoods, the bagels, the urban ziplining, the local radio stations, and the friendly vibe. But for some reason, this pic is the one that I am choosing from our time in the city. Nothing fancy about it with weeds growing through the cracks, a hodgepodge of tin and concrete, and umbrellas akimbo; however, it is also filled with pops of colors, interesting textures, and real-life grit. After our time in quaint Quebec City, it was actually kind of refreshing to be in a "real" city focused more on living than performing or charming. So glad we decided to do both Montreal and Quebec City for a bit of yin/yang experience.
For Savoring: Your Life is a Poem
For Watching: Hunt for the Wilderpeople
For Birding: How A Feeder Revived My Marriage
For Reading: Green Island
For Laughing: Flight of the Conchords Watch Penguins
For Playing: Machi Koro
For Listening: Tiffany Aching Disc World Audio Books
For Examining: Art in Pond Scum
For Sampling: Taiwanese Junk Food
I went to Canada and fell in love with their mail boxes. Colorful and peppy, those cheerful depositories made me want to stuff them with encouraging letters and bills with pretty stamps. It's funny how traveling makes the mundane aspects of daily life so much more interesting in new places. Grocery stores in other countries are far more interesting to me than grocery stores at home. And now it turns out that mail boxes are, too.
And here's another thing those postal boxes made me think about. When I was a kid, sending postcards was a big part of our travel ritual. Selecting the perfect card for each recipient. Using scratchy motel pens to describe trip highlights to grandparents and cousins. Words and drawings spilling over the edges. A satisfying little stack of paper greetings ready to be mailed. I was actually pretty good about sending postcards all the way into my 20s and 30s. And I assumed that this travel ritual would continue with my own children. It seemed like a good way to push them to write while also maintaining contact with family many miles away. But as with most good intentions, it never really happens. Don't get me wrong. We keep trying. Or at least I keep trying. After careful deliberation, post cards always get purchased with specific recipients in mind and I always think that this will finally be the trip that kick starts a new desire to write personal notes and letters on a more regular basis. Sometimes they actually get written, but they rarely get sent and the reality is that I have a large box of postcards documenting most of our trips from the past sixteen years of marriage (any ideas on what to do with those?). And I can't even remember the last time we received one. To be honest, it is surprising that post cards are even still made and sold. So here's to hoping that those cheerful Canadian boxes prompt a personal letter writing resurgence and may postcards continue to exist.
Pack a soccer ball. Rent an apartment in the Old City. Eat poutine. Attend the Les Fetes de la Nouvelle France. Leave plenty of time for wandering and splashing in fountains. Eat crepes and chocolate croissants.Try to speak French. Get in line early for the spectacular (and free!) circus on Saturday nights. Stay for the fireworks over the St. Lawrence River. Stop to listen to street musicians. Fall asleep to the sound of horse drawn carriages tromping over cobblestone streets. Get up the next morning and repeat.
Quaint views, bursts of colorful flowers, and history oozing from her pores, Quebec City worked her magic on us and had me wishing we had several more days for wandering her cobblestone streets. We were lucky to be in town for the Les Fetes de la Nouvelle-France, but I also have to admit that some of our favorite moments were those that occurred away from the crowds.
This summer my kids weren't the only ones who went to sleep-away camp. Noah made the annual trek south to Mississippi for another memorable summer at Jacobs Camp. Camille wanted to give farm camp a try and that prompted me to start thinking about finding a camp experience of my own.
So Camille and I packed our bags, loaded up the van, and drove north to the Hudson River Valley. The first stop was Sprout Creek Farm where Camille was all geared up to spend the week milking goats/cows, meeting new friends, and swimming in the creek. After helping her get settled, I headed thirty minutes up the road to Omega where I spent a blissful week doing yoga, taking fun classes (hula hooping! writing, drawing, etc), kayaking, and taking afternoon naps in hammocks by the lake. It was truly a week of deep renewal and rest. And so much better than my previous experience with summer camp which was a homesick and anxiety-ridden week with fellow 4-H members in rural Louisiana.
Noah is still at camp and although his notes home are brief, they are filled with exclamation points and we can tell he is having fun. Camille can't stop telling us stories of her farm adventures and has been maintaining near daily contact with new camp buddies. And two weeks post-camp, I am still feeling the after effects of re-calibration and already day dreaming about a return next summer...
For Listening: Hooray for the return of Invisibilia
For Discussing: The Giver and Debatable
For Playing: Bring Your Own Book
For Summer Hiking: All Trails app
For Road Tripping: Are We There Yet? and Sisters
For Digesting: Finding Dory from an adoptee's perspective
For Planting: State Fair Zinnias
For Considering: Letters of Recommendation
For Exploring: Smithsonian Folklife Festival
For Repeating: Do The Right Thing
This year our annual trip to Navarre Beach was a bit different: noisy,surreal, and steampunk. There were big machines, dredge boats, and a large rusty pipe running through the middle of the beach...all part of a Sisyphean task to enlarge this sliver of a barrier island. As a result, the water was murkier, the walk to the water was much further, there were lights and machine noises throughout the night, and there were periodic leaks from the pipe. Strangely, with all of that going on we had more Black Skimmers than usual swooping along the edge of the water and a huge Blue Heron who hung around our house each morning.