December 28, 2007


I haven't been spending much time in cyberspace lately. Something about this season brings out my need to connect with the sensible world of sights, scents, and touches.

Since embracing the idea of haiku-writing as a lifelong pursuit, I have posted almost 100 original haiku here on my blog, and have written a bunch more that are "not quite ready for prime time." I have also found some of the places here in cyberspace where other 'ku writers hang out, and, through my association with one of them I have joined up with over 60 other haiku aspirants to participate in a variation on the Japanese tradition of sending nengajou, or New Year's cards.

The picture above is of my cards "in production"... I had them printed with a photo (of me, by me) on one side, and my haiku on the other (thank you, WinkFlash!), and then added some high-touch details by hand with pens, stamps, and glitter glue. For me, the feeling of anticipation that preparing a piece of mail that I hope will brighten someone's day is a gift unto itself.

If you're visiting here at But Wait, There's More! as a result of receiving one of my nengajou cards, won't you please leave a comment? And thank you for your card.

And for those of you who are not plugged into the whole nengajou scene, here's the haiku I wrote to go with my cards:

one more year
and a snowflake on my scarf ~
melting away

(Now if we could just get the snow to go with it,
I'd really be a happy girl!)

December 24, 2007

Giving Haiku

The winter village atop our six-foot-long bookcase in the livingroom is a tradition of many years that we look forward to from about Hallowe'en on.

Caroling with a bunch of folks on our street with a new friend from school...

...followed by cookies and hot cocoa was a new tradition this year. We're hoping it might be here to stay!

Tradition ~
when the wrapping
becomes the gift.

(Thanks to the good women at One Deep Breath
for their continuing inspiration.)

December 23, 2007


It's been an interesting study in marketing effectiveness. Peapod (Stop & Shop's home delivery service) has been sending me postcards for MONTHS. Maybe even a whole year. But I kind of like getting out and seeing people, and I often wait until I'm almost out of things before I actually get myself out to the grocery store, so I kept thinking, "Nah." Last month I finally hit the exact right combination of factors... an almost empty fridge, several evening commitments in a row, and some nasty weather that made the idea of sitting at home shopping from my laptop especially appealing. So I signed up and started shopping.

The online store doesn't have everything that the real world store does, but it certainly has the essentials. One feature I especially liked was the "sort by unit price" option; when buying something relatively generic like corn chips, it was really easy to figure out which brand represented the best deal. And the starter coupon I'd received in the mail effectively negated the delivery charge (which didn't seem inordinately high in any case).

Once you've put together your order, you get to select your desired delivery window. The most popular delivery times (e.g. right after work) sometimes have a several dollar premium on them, but my meetings meant that a 7-10pm window on a Thursday night was just fine.

Sure enough, that night I heard the vehicular backup "beep beep beep", and the Peapod delivery truck appeared in our driveway:

And here's the haul on my kitchen floor, before I put it all away:

I don't think I'll be using Peapod for ALL my shopping anytime soon, but the night I used it, Mr. D and I got to hang out and play family games instead of schlepping to the grocery store and back at the end of an already long day, which makes me think that there's probably some more Peapod shopping in my future. But maybe not over the holidays. Their delivery selection page currently says, "We suggest you reserve your delivery time now as popular times fill up quickly during the busy holiday season."

December 16, 2007

Another Gift Idea

How about buying the folks you love a chance or two at the fabulous prizes over at the Menu for Hope?

T's got the world's worst sore throat and D's warding off a cold, so I'm too busy doing the Florence Nightingale thing to write much. Send healing vibes!

December 13, 2007

Nothing Sweeter

Is there anything sweeter than the sound of a sleeping child's breath shushing in and out?

Didn't think so.

Are you holiday shopping right now? Because I am, and I keep finding stuff for me.

Which is a good thing, I think. Last year one of my students gave me a gift certificate to a bookstore as a present, and the first thirteen things I thought of buying with it were for someone other than me.

(That is all.)

What Will He Hold?

The second thing I remember thinking after we found out that Mr. D was going to be a Mister was, "Some old white guy is going to want to put my baby in harm's way."

So when he mentioned having seen an awesome "real" lightsaber "what you could hang on your wall," the other day, I couldn't take it.

"I will not have a weapon hanging on the wall in my house!" I fumed. Stunned by my vehemence, he burst into tears.

I wasn't raised Quaker. And one of my all-time favorite childhood memories is seeing the original Star Wars movie with my dad when it first came out.

I have a weak spot for the Force, and so Star Wars slipped past my defenses. Part of why my son was so surprised is that he knows I like Star Wars. Or at least that I like the story. He sometimes plays with weapons at friends' houses, but our house has remained a weapon-free zone. Except for the plastic light sabers. It's so confusing.

I apologized. I explained to him that I'm afraid some bad leader will think that something is worth sending other people's sons off to die for, and that it makes me scared to think that it might be him some day. I also told him that I wouldn't change my mind.

And then I remembered all the times that he has been moved by beauty.

And music.

And I held him close, singing a prayer for peace in my heart.

(How do we raise peaceful children
in these violent times? Your thoughts?
PS: Mr. D is featured on the Anti-Racist Parent site today)

December 12, 2007

Busy Busy

I'm super-busy, but it's mostly good stuff. Here's what I've been up to:

Participating in a Japanese New Year tradition (nengajo) and thinking about the design of my postcard.

Refining the notes for my Tech Talk on wikis this afternoon.

Working on my wish list.

Helping my niece find a poem worth memorizing.

Gleefully corresponding with a friend I've been out of touch with (hi, Lorraine!).

Hoping no one will invent a "switch-to-straight" pill.

Re-designing the front page of my professional wiki.

And worrying about the polar bears.

WHEW. Wish I could go take a nap!

December 07, 2007

Poems to Learn By Heart

We had some snow swirls earlier this week, and Mr. D and I reveled in the crisp freshness of it all.

"Mommy," he asked in his serious scientist voice, "is snow attracted to light?"

"No," I said, "but the light helps us see it better."

"Oh," he said, immediately understanding. "It's beautiful."

Yes it is.

Meanwhile, down in MD, my niece Super T is in search of a poem worthy of memorization... I'm putting together a list of suggestions here. (My sister reminds me that this child went to a Waldorf school through 2nd grade, and so can handle fairly substantial chunks of verse.) Got any poems to add?

December 05, 2007

Two Part Plan

Part one: Aunt Chelle comes to visit!
Wrestling, games, and Christmas elfing ensue.

Part two: Mommy holes up in the kitchen
for her annual biscotti-a-thon.

(Part three? Crunch!
Thanks again, Aunt Chelle.)

November 30, 2007

Playing Along

One of my favorite denizens of the blogosphere is the fabulous Patti Digh, whose work is a continual inspiration to me and loads of other people.

Her latest project, in conjuction with her upcoming book, included putting out a call to any artists interested in creating illustrations to go on a deck of cards that she hopes will accompany the book.

I raised my hand. Not because I think of myself as a visual artist – I mostly don't – but because my friends encouraged me, and because I loved the idea of playing along with Patti Digh. So did a lot of other people. We all signed up and were assigned essays, and the one that was selected for me was Signal your turns. You should go read it.

I think the odds of my interpretation being the interpretation are pretty slim. And I really don't care. Because I learned all kinds of new tricks trying to figure out how to make that card up there (thanks for the support, L & C!), and because I was playing along with Patti Digh all week.

(Here endeth NaBloPoMo.
Hope I win a prize!
And you can check out
some other 37days cards here,
if you like.)

November 29, 2007

Student Essay #473

Here I am at the end of a long day. Reviewing student essays at our kitchen table, trying to "zero out." Tomorrow will bring dozens more. My students are all working hard to make sure that the colleges to which they're applying understand who they are and what makes them tick. And some of them have learned a bit about themselves in the process.

I think I do this part of my job well, and have always found competence appealing. So I like this picture of me deep in the thick of the work.

(Day #29 of NaBloPoMo.)

November 28, 2007


The after school boys
see red and black chips at night
when they close their eyes.

(Day #28 of NaBloPoMo.)

November 27, 2007

Stone Haiku

Each stone on the beach
awaits the moment
when it, too, will soar.

(Day #27 of NaBloPoMo.
Thanks to the women of One Deep Breath
for their continuing inspiration.)

November 26, 2007

Rain Haiku

Starting and stopping,
wanting both to be noticed
and to disappear...

It rained off and on for most of the day today. I left both my cellphone and my camera at home, and felt out of touch.

(Day #26 of NaBloPoMo.)

(PS: The new
Mac ads are up!
These are so good we watch a few before settling in to watch a DVD.)

November 25, 2007

Care and Feeding

We read a study once that looked at division of labor issues within lesbian and gay households. (I'd cite the specifics if I could remember them, sigh.)

One of the things that the study's authors noticed while compiling their results was that the person in each household who did the food shopping often also ended up being the person who was the familial keeper of likes and dislikes.

I do most of our food shopping (and yes, a Peapod tell-all post is coming soon), but I really think we share our knowledge of each other's food likes and dislikes. Even Mr. D is getting in on the act. ("Tama, you shouldn't be eating that because you know it has chocolate in it. Do you want some of my white chocolate from Hallowe'en?")

There's something so basic and elemental about providing someone not only with sustenance, but with something that will get them "mmmmm"ing with delight.

Here's hoping someone does that for you now and again.

(NaBloPoMo day #25. Warming up for ReadWritePoem's prompt #2.)

November 24, 2007

Head Towards Challenge

Easy to avoid,
but much more satisfying
to miss by a hair.

His whole life has seen Mr. D abjuring the easy routes for the ones fraught with bumps and possible peril. As a toddler, he liked nothing better than to walk around and around the trees with the very knobbiest roots. As a kindergartner, he seems happiest when headed straight for an imposing trunk, which he then swerves to miss at the last possible second.

Have I mentioned my grey hair? It's quite lovely, actually.

(Day 24 of NaBloPoMo.)

November 23, 2007

How to Rock Thanksgiving

Stay home. Seriously. Or bad things may happen.

Make sure to wear 3-D glasses and dress in black
when hauling your turkey.

Share the feast prep work.

Keep some butter in your freezer. Because you never know.

Then kick back and listen to Alice's Restaurant.
("Kid, have you ever been arrested?")

Here endeth the lesson.

(NaBloPoMo day #23.)

November 22, 2007

Thankful, Thankful, Thankful

"Can I eat yet?"

"I think this one is the most beautiful."

"Want to see me jump?"

We had a lovely day today. Hope you did, too.

(NaBloPoMo Day 22.)

November 21, 2007

I Kid You Not

I've taken to carrying my camera pretty much everywhere, in part because of my work here in the blogosphere (and I use the term work oh-so-lightly), and because of my experiences of capturing shots I'm grateful for where I would never have predicted there would be any worth taking.

I did leave my camera at home this morning, though, because I was just going to the local Wegman's (in my family everyone says "Weggies") for a few yams, a jar of mincemeat, an onion, and some milk.

I really wish I'd had my camera.

Instead, I'll have to try to describe the scene at the back of the store in words... the refrigerator case between the section marked "Eggs" and the section marked "Yogurt," clearly marked "Butter," but mostly sporting a gaping whole surrounded by ragged clumps of margarine wanna bes. Shoppers hovered in disbelief, sounding Clintonesque (he, not she) in their willingness to stretch the meaning of the word, "out."

"When you say you're 'out' of butter, do you mean that you just haven't put it all out yet, or do you actually mean that you're 'out out," asked one woman. Her voice may have quavered.

A hapless errand-runner frantically reached for his cell phone, "Sweetie," he jammed his finger in his other ear the better to hear, "Yes, I'm here, but there's no butter. Yes, I know you have to bake. Well, there is some Parkay. Should I get that? Sweetie?"

There was no butter to be had. Even the people whose lists didn't include butter slowed down to gawk... it's the first time I've ever seen rubbernecking in a supermarket. Luckily I always stock some in my freezer. Guess I could take a picture of that, but it wouldn't be the same.

Have a happy!

(Day 21 of NaBloPoMo.)

November 20, 2007


Our friend Carmen's rowhouse was one of those burned down in a multihome fire a few weeks ago. Someone in their neighborhood had come up against the hard realities of paying for food and heat and medicine, and tried to tap into the electrical line coming into the houses illegally. They all lost everything.

My friend Karen lost her husband to cancer a few months back, just weeks after losing her father.

My own gratitude is tinged with the sorrow of these heart-rending tragedies.

I'm trying to make sure that the gratitude flows freely.

(Day 20 of NaBloPoMo.)

November 19, 2007

Things That Made Me Smile Today

For most of the day today, our internet access here at home was knocked out. Now it's back. :-)

This morning's rain wanted very badly to be snow. It came down in wet, slurpy, kiss-like splats. As I drove north, it achieved its desire and magically became snow. :-)

A certain someone has finally learned her lesson and bought FOUR quarts of Soy Silk Nog when she had the chance the other day. :-)

The young gentleman and I went shopping at Dick's for new wrestling shoes and he confidently sounded out the name of the store. :-)

Someone I like called me out of the blue. At work, even! :-)

My folks seem to like the idea of an all-family outing to the Philly Holiday Pops. :-)

I got a chance to talk to my dear old friend Claire. :-)

A bunch of cool folks have read and commented on my "I Carry" post. :-)

And on the day I realized I'd been tagged with a book-related meme, I heard a little piece on NPR about the correlation between reading and success in life. :-)

My pillow will be nice and cool when I rest my head on it in a few minutes. :-)

(NaBloPoMo day #19. For real this time.
Yesterday was the 18th. I get ahead of myself.)

November 18, 2007


Here's Mr. D playing Othello vs. the famous Mr. G, one of his good friends and most frequent opponents in the after-school games. I try whenever possible not to rush D out, but to let him stay and finish his game if that's what he'd rather do. So I get to lurk and listen. Games often end with a handshake and the pronouncment, "Good game." I don't think I'll ever get tired of witnessing spontaneous good manners on our son's part.

In addition to wondering idly about the location of my colored ink pads (I had to make a birthday card today with homemade stencils, yikes!) I'm still watching yesterday's music video of our guy's evolution as a bike rider once every couple of hours. And just after I've been grooving on Larry Lessig's TED talk about the necessity of openness and creativity! Gotta love those geniuses at ANIMOTO.

And hey Wendy, I got myself a space in a little "how to" letterboxing session later this year, so yay, I might actually get that particular creative act in gear. And we completely love What Kind of Cat Are You? too!

We're contemplating taking in the Philly Holiday Pops around Christmas this year... anyone have any informal reviews to share? Time to fold the laundry...

(Day 19 of NaBloPoMo.)
(Also, many happy returns to my BFF Claire Dana.)

November 17, 2007

Biking, Not Blogging

Unsure of how many
more days like this we'll have,
we hopped on our bikes.

(Which is more dangerous, Mr. D cutting a smile my way,
or me riding alongside, expensive camera in hand?
Click here to record your vote! Guaranteed chad-free.
And check out the music video!)

November 16, 2007

The Sun and Blossoming

Today began with brilliant sun, so different from the rain and fog of the immediately preceding days. My daily drive to work takes me past a small lake, and I was very tempted to swerve off into the public parking area just to soak up some sun and maybe hear some geese and wind. But I was already running late because a certain small someone was having a chatty morning and does like to share his breakfast time with me. So I imagined the time by the lake shore, and I think that was almost as nice.

~ ~ ~

In between rounds of wrestling tonight (the season starts tomorrow and he can hardly wait!), Mr. D asked me if I thought he would be more like me or more like Tama when he grew up. I wish I could get into the habit of saying, "What an interesting question. Why do you ask?" but so far I can't, so instead I said, "I think it's likely that in some ways you'll do things that remind people of me, and that you'll do other things that remind people of Tama, and that probably, you'll do some things that make people wonder, 'Now where did he get that from?'" I think he smiled a little. In several months, when I've forgotten the conversation entirely, he'll pick up the thread as if he's been mulling it over all that time.

I want so much to be present to his blossoming, both because it's thrilling and because I feel like I'll have some great chances to toss in a little Miracle-Gro here and there. Not that he seems to need much.

(Still posting every day this month. Yawn.)

November 15, 2007

I Carry

There is a phrase in Quakerism that I have found helpful in my life (lots of phrases, actually, but that's maybe another post for another time). The one I'm thinking about today is, "Under the weight of a concern."

There was a time when the daily speech of Friends (Quakers) was markedly different from that of their peers. But although most Friends now speak in a way that is virtually indistinguishable from that of their peers, there are still some telltale phrases, and "under the weight of a concern" is one of them. When a Friend speaks of being "under the weight of a concern," it is in a spirit of empathy as an inducement to action. So while you might be concerned about a loved one's health and leave it at that, if you spoke about being under the weight of such a concern, it could imply a broader degree of feeling, and might lead a listening Quaker to ask you how you were led to proceed, given the weight of your concern.

The concerns I carry, those which I am under the weight of, are in some ways the ones I have chosen, or at least the ones I have chosen to acknowledge. I am under the weight of a concern about the lack of universal health care coverage in my country. I am under the weight of a concern about the stigma still often associated with mental illness. I am under the weight of a concern about the health of our democracy if we come to think of ourselves only as investors and consumers. And what it means, to me, to be under the weight of these things, is that I am willing to move beyond worry. That I will move through the world with the knowledge that I am carrying them.

I will talk, and argue, and listen, and puzzle over these inequities. I will seek greater understanding, I will try to create spaces for collaboration, I will ally myself with others who seem to me to be under the weight of a similar concern. And in carrying these concerns in this way, I will make the only difference I can. Or maybe I should say, the difference only I can.

(Thanks to the good women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)

November 14, 2007

American Sentences

Pumpkins held the line
as a stubborn fog vowed
to stay and fight.

The traffic was slow this morning: mostly the
idea of fog.

I swallow my pill, solving one problem, causing another.

We sit in our bedroom, each at our own screen – togetherness?

(American Sentences. Sentences of seventeen syllables,
informed by direct observation,
prompted by the good women
at ReadWritePoem.
Somewhat harder than it looks.
But not as hard as posting every day for a month.)

November 13, 2007

Lost Day

I spent most of the day today in bed with a vicious migraine. Like many migraine-sufferers, I have gradually become my own best advocate when it comes to dealing with these crippling headaches. Slowly but surely, I have figured out my main migraine triggers (intense stress, lack of sleep, too much sun, and too much time between meals), and through keeping an eye on those have been able to feel somewhat more in control of my life. And as these things go, I've been relatively lucky; I rarely suffer from more than one migraine a month, and have never had one that lasted more than 24 hours, unlike some of the folks who piped up in the comments on Judith Warner's recent NYT piece on her migraine struggles.

But today's migraine was the result (I think) of two factors I have less control over: barometric pressure, and a "rebound" effect that sometimes comes from taking the medicine that usually banishes a migraine for good. So when I woke up at 4:49am with a blazing headache and the weird combination of hunger and nausea that goes with my migraines, I pretty much knew I was down for the count.

I curled up in bed, slept when I could, ate when I could stand it, and took a bath when standing up didn't make me dizzy anymore. By 4pm I was feeling almost human again.

And this evening, I wrote up another one of my stories for my Life in Stories Project.

So not an entirely lost day after all!

November 12, 2007

Belonging Haiga

autumn slides in,
defiantly belonging –
brown wedge in the green

(Thanks to the women of One Deep Breath
for their continuing inspiration.
And here I am, blogging about autumn
on the eve of the Winter Haiku 2007 blog's inagural posts!)

November 11, 2007

Woolly Bear

This woolly bear caterpillar was inching her way up the Meetinghouse wall this morning when she lost her purchase and tumbled into the grass. I gently scooped her up and explained to Mr. D that some folks believe that the width of the brown band on a woolly bear is inversely predictive of the length of the coming winter. But then, since this was the first woolly bear I'd seen all year (and maybe his first ever), we didn't have much in the way of comparative data.

"When they're scared, they curl up in a little ball," I continued. "But I'm trying not to scare her."

We were waiting for D's other mom to come and scoop him up. Focusing on the caterpillar helped me not get too stressed out about the time. We also played a round of head stomp shadow tag, in which you try to step on the shadow of your partner's head. This is a game in which it pays to be the shorter player. I lost and lost and lost.

(Posting every day? No problem.
Figuring out what to wear on Monday morning? Sigh.
Cool stuff on Woolly Bears over here and here, if you're curious.)

November 10, 2007

Safe As Houses

A cold and wet November day calls for the building of forts. JT was here all morning and the boys built a doozy. No blanket was spared, no pillow left unsmushed. And look at how cozy it is!

Did you build forts when you were a kid? Most of my strongest fort memories are of the elaborate ones I built in the woods in the foothills at the end of our development. There was something so thrilling about being able to create a habitat that was entirely of my own making. Of his fort today, D said, "It has food, and a place to sleep, and a bathroom... a person could really live here!" (The food and the bathroom were imaginary, but that's obviously beside the point.) Seeing the pride shining in his eyes, I remembered being particularly thrilled when I figured out how to weave some branches together into a semblance of a shelf... even as a child, I included books in my list of the bare necessities.

Marie Howe has a great poem called "The Fort"... if you don't know her work, go snag a copy of What the Living Do. If you're a friend of mine and you don't like it, I'll personally refund your money.

(Blogging every day this month,
and tentatively thinking my toe is on the mend,
thanks for asking.)

November 09, 2007

Left and Right

When my Oma first emigrated to this country from Germany after World War II, she had a lot to learn and a lot to adjust to.

At one point, when she had mastered enough English that she was comfortable going out shopping, she noticed that the young woman ahead of her in line was signing a check with her left hand. My grandmother watched with growing compassion, thinking, "I wonder what happened to that girl?" Then, as she watch the young woman pack her groceries into bags, it slowly dawned on my Oma: there was nothing wrong with the young woman's right hand or arm. She was simply naturally left-handed. In Germany at that time, there was no such thing as a naturally left-handed person.

My Oma told me this story years later, as she watched me, her little left-handed granddaughter, sitting at her dining room table and writing a postcard to my parents. She was thinking that the world had really changed. And she was right.

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.
And thanks to all the people who helped
make naturally occurring left-handedness possible.
As someone commented below,
the non-existence of left-handed people
was the result of active suppression.)

November 08, 2007

My kitchen echoes. I turn my knife over
and scrape the onions into the pot
with the back of my knife, hearing
the friend who taught me to protect my edges.
As I slip the soup into bowls I make out
the faint roar of a distant jet engine –
my lover imported the ladle from Germany,
slipping its stainless steel curves into her suitcase.
I cook with my mother’s dish towel over my shoulder,
listening for my grandmothers’ voices whispering up
from the recipes they wrote on blue-lined index cards.

(Thanks to Jillypoet for the 11-line challenge
and Read.Write.Poem for the spark ("ladle").
Tune in tomorrow for more piping hot content.)

November 06, 2007

Why Vote? Why Blog?

I'm a Democratic committee person in my town, which means that I'm pretty busy on Election Day. My responsibilities include helping to coordinate "get out the vote" efforts, which has gotten a lot easier since the advent of cell phones. I think I spooked a few of my neighbors by calling them about a half hour before the polls closed and reminding them to vote. "How do you know I didn't already vote?" one of them asked. Well, because we have folks who sit and watch the polls all day to make sure that everything's going okay, and one of the things we do as we sit there is keep track of who has voted. Not HOW they've voted, but whether they've voted. Because every vote does still count, at least if we do it right.

The results of any election matter, at the very least to the people who are running for office. But even if you're not "up" on the issues and don't see any significant differences amongst the candidates, voting still matters. Because it's your chance to participate in a conversation. If you feel that the conversation doesn't pertain to you, or doesn't make a difference, you can decide not to vote. But if you hung out long enough with the people who DO think the conversation pertains to them, you might get sucked in.

Blogging is a little bit like that. The internet is FULL of conversation, about pretty much anything under the sun, and you could decide that most of it doesn't pertain to you. But if there's a little corner of your life which is lit by passion, and your life out in the real world doesn't reflect that in quite the way you would like it to, you might be moved to put up a little sign on a lawn somewhere in cyberspace that says, "I'm over here grooving on this." And if you're feeling really brave (or foolish, or attention-seeking, or lonely, or curious), you might tie a Sharpie® marker to a string and hang it from the corner of your sign. Just to see if anyone has any comments.

Since becoming a blogger, I have read books that fellow bloggers have recommended, worn jewelry that bloggers have designed, and gone to art openings in the real world of artists whose work I first discovered through their blogs. I have recorded stories of my daily life as a parent that I am happy to be able to reread several years later. I have gotten good advice. I have been complimented and thanked by people I've never met. I have thought about things in new ways. I have started carrying my camera everywhere. I have deepened my understanding of activism, mindfulness, haiku, and mortality. I have become a little bit more like myself.

(Thanks to Jaxter for her inadvertent inspiration,
and this is my 501st post, how 'bout that?
C'mon back tomorrow for a shorter post.)

November 05, 2007

Autumn Haiku

trees leave
their colors
lying around
for me to pick up

(Bought these pants in April after my luggage
never came home from a trip to Florida, thinking,
"These would be fun in November."
I was right.
And hey, I'm posting every day this month;
can you even stand it?)

November 04, 2007

Loneliness Haiku

everywhere I turn,
a blur of birds
flying away

old friend's phone machine
with the voice of her husband,
now gone

(Thanks to the women of One Deep Breath
for their continuing inspiration.)

Meeting for Living

I spend most Sunday mornings at Quaker Meeting. Today, because of the time change (don't forget the time change!), there will be a few people who show up at Meeting just a few minutes before we are all ready to rise. These folks will arrive and wonder at the deeply "settled" feel of the room... usually at the beginning of Meeting there are just a handful of people, and there may be some rustling and stirring as folks settle into silence. But today, the members of the Church of the Unchanged Clock will sit down, and then in a few minutes will be very confused as the rest of us wind up our time together with a good morning handshake. There's one friend in particular I have in mind to call, because he's been one of those bewildered late-arrivals several times.

I don't always get to Meeting itself. These days I am just as likely to be hanging out with the little people of the nursery. Someone will want me to tell a story, someone else will want to color, and a third small someone will be thinking about snacktime as soon as he toddles through the door. The adults of the Meeting feel a little bad for me if I don't get to go to Meeting for Worship for multiple weeks in a row, and we do rotate through a number of caregivers so that everyone gets some of both.

But a wise Friend once said to me that the older she gets, the more she thinks that the which and how of your spiritual practice matters much less than the why of it. That almost any act, done consciously and with spirit-led intent, can become a spiritual practice. Another Friend half-jokingly said to me once, when I remarked on her absence from Meeting for Worship that day, that she'd been attending Meeting for Gardening.

So sometimes I attend Meeting for Worship, and sometimes I attend Meeting for Storytelling. If I keep working at it (a longterm prospect, to be sure... see also my blogfriend Patti Digh's work at not complaining), maybe someday I'll approach the feeling that I am living in the spirit of Meeting. Meeting for Living.

November 03, 2007


I've been limping for about a week now. Long enough that folks are asking me if I've seen a doctor about it. (No, but I have an appointment for Tuesday.) My left pinkie toe is infected (ewwwww!) and seems to be having trouble healing of its own accord.

Whenever I experience a temporary disability like this, it makes me think and wonder about all the folks whose disabilities are a daily constant. And I also remember the times when I was disabled in a less visible way – my broken jaw, which only showed once someone engaged me in conversation; my broken heart, which showed when I sat down in Meeting for Worship and felt the tears start up again, unbidden.

We all have hidden abilities and disabilities, and it's not a bad thing to be reminded of that. But I would like to be able to walk again without limping.

November 02, 2007

Half undone
oak trees bequeath
their lessons

(Inspired in large measure by my friend Sassafras Mama.
I'm posting every day this month;
how about you?)

November 01, 2007

Filthy Lucre

When I took three years off from waged work in order to stay home with our little man, I was surprised to discover that one of the hardest parts was, well, the lack of wages.

It wasn't that we were desperate for money. (I'm a confirmed miser, so we had some savings, and planned to run through them. One of my friends (bless her heart) said, "Well, if you wouldn't spend savings on that, what would you spend savings on?")

But depending entirely on those savings and the earnings of my partner was really hard on me. I felt like I couldn't buy anything without justifying it to myself six ways from Sunday. And now that I'm back in the work force, paydays are some of my very favorites.

I'm not sure what all this means, but I do think it bears reflecting on. Especially as we think about our son's relationship to money.

When I was growing up, discussing some of the money-related details of life just wasn't done (at least in my WASPish family). If someone asks me what our mortgage payment is, I'm likely to bristle. But surely keeping kids completely in the dark about the financial realities that underpin our lives isn't the way to go, either. I recently had cause to ask my home town credit union how long I've been a member there; my parents opened an account for me when I was six! (I had a bank account once, but have since gone back to credit unions, which I consider to be vastly superior; don't even get me started.)

How do you think about money and parenting? I'd love to hear.

Tag, I'm It

Something possessed me to sign up for another year of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month, or some such), so I now join the ranks of sleepy bloggers who begin and end each day desperately seeking to eke out some content from their meagre lives. (Hey, let me know if you think of anything you'd like to see here at But Wait in the next 30 days or so.) Thank goodness for my dear friend Sassafras Mama, who tagged me with this meme a while back:

1) What I was doing ten years ago:
Ten years ago was 1997. I had just left my job of many years, and had started working in my new home state of New Jersey. My partner and I were living together for the first time (in a little 862 square foot faculty apartment), and saving up for a house.

2.) Five years ago:
That would have been 2002, my first full year of being a parent. I had quit working for wages and was staying at home with a certain someone. My best and most challenging job to date.

3) One year ago:
Recovering from Hallowe'en and writing recommendation letters. Kind of like now, actually.

4.) Yesterday:
Hallowe'en! Haunted the halls of my school during the day, reminding kids who need reminding that they have to start essays, finish essays, visit schools, etc. etc. Stopped by the CVS on the way home to snag some Epsom salts so I can continue to nurse my infected toe (ewwww!) back to health. Also snagged some Hallowe'en-themed pencils to use as "bonus prizes" for the really good costumes. Held down the fort here at home while Mr. D and his good friend cased the surrounding streets for prospects of candy and "unicycle money." (Um, that's UNICEF, son.)

5.) 5 snacks I enjoy:
MacIntosh apple slices; homemade air-popped popcorn (like Stacy, no microwave nonsense); chocolate (dark, non-American); Polish-style dill pickle; fresh raisin challah

6.) 5 things I would do if I suddenly had $100 million:
go crazy on Kiva, endow a travel fund for my friends and family, endow the Chinese language program and the Guatemalan service project at Princeton Friends School, work part-time, buy a little retirement house near the water and some great golf courses

7.) 5 locations I would like to run away to:
Provincetown, MA; Vancouver, BC; Prince Edward Island; Asheville, NC; Silver City, NM

8.) 5 bad habits I have:
underestimating people; interrupting folks; leaving lunch-making until the last minute; swearing when I really shouldn't; surfing when I really shouldn't

9.) 5 things I like doing:
brightening the day of friends, getting total strangers to smile, talking to a captive audience (the bigger, the better), traveling on someone else's nickel, reading

10.) 5 TV shows I like:
Ugly Betty; Actor's Studio, West Wing; STTNG; M*A*S*H

11.) 5 things I hate doing:
Hmmm, hate is an awfully strong word. Cleaning out disgusting moldy food stuff that I knew I should have cleaned out last week; losing my things; losing my temper with my son; losing a night to insomnia; losing a day to a migraine

12.) 5 Biggest joys of the moment:
a well-written recommendation letter; spontaneous "thank you's"; hanging out with Mr. D; cooler weather and the resulting snuggle opportunities; good snailmail

October 31, 2007

Before and After

Here are pictures of Mr. D... before and after his somewhat unspecified yet gruesome accident:
No worries...

Oh, dear. Most unfortunate.

This entire costume – he called it "bloody accident victim" – was his idea. We just aided and abetted.

I love Hallowe'en. Chocolate flowing in the streets. The sound of packs of gleeful children on a mission. Teenagers giving up their cool for one last night of Raggedy Ann and Skeletor. Parents hovering at the ends of driveways. Friends who go out together and then come back and compare their loot. Homemade costumes. Kids who are thrilled when you "get" their homemade costumes. Little kids who can barely overcome their fear, but then finally pipe up with the requisite "Trick or Treat." Toasting pumpkin seeds the way my friend Fred taught me. People who turn their entire first floor into a haunted house that has become so popular that their street is parked in with people who have driven over to check it out. A chance to play at being someone else. A chance to play with fear. A chance to play.

October 30, 2007

Change Haiku

even my feet
feel the change –
cold bathroom tile

(Thanks to the women of One Deep Breath
for their continuing inspiration.)

We are SO ready!

That's Mr. D holding a gravestone, wearing a witch hat, and sporting a glow-in-the dark alien hand. The Hallowe'en box has been unpacked, a recipe for fake blood has been procured, and we are ALL OVER IT.

A boy who lives down the street asked us if we will be opening the door with alien hands again this year. I absolutely LOVE having a Hallowe'en reputation!

October 25, 2007

Fun for the Whole Family

Usually the phrase "fun for the whole family," elicits a "yeah, right" response from me, but you know what? This cool toy, a late-breaking birthday present from Mr. D's Aunt Chelle, actually IS fun for the whole family! You stand on the wobbly base and try to roll the ball through the maze by bending your body this way and that, and it's really hard to do! The gift arrived on a rainy fall evening; perfect timing, Aunt Chelle!

October 24, 2007

Lice Alert

This just in from Mr. D's little neighborhood school:
Just wanted to give you a "heads up" about taking lice precautions as a few cases are in the school. Although we have none in our class yet, we do have to share the same carpeted areas in the music room and library and some students have siblings. If your child has long hair, please put it in braids or ponytails. Thanks for your cooperation in this matter.
Swell. Wish his hair was long enough to have some fun with this. And I know it's great to be comfy during circle time and all that, but seriously? I don't think my elementary school had a scrap of carpet in the place. Hmmm....

October 20, 2007

Turning a Corner

Photo Sharing at Photobucket

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a bike rider!

Mr. D scooted over to the playground this morning, delighted to be in the company of his school friend, Little Boy From Italy. There were five of us (Little Boy From Italy brought his father and sister along), and at one point Mr. D's young friend wanted to give D's scooter a try. Remembering my friends' stories of offering their kids "no pressure" opportunities to try bike riding, I said to D: "Hey buddy, do you want to try riding your friend's bike?" "Sure," he said.

I took this picture three minutes later.

I just held the seat and gave him a push and that was it. I didn't even run alongside, instead standing there dumbfounded as he rode over the grass and then calmly steered around a tree and out onto the playground. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I had just finished explaining to Boy From Italy's dad that D wasn't quite past the point of needing training wheels yet.

Sometimes being wrong is actually fun.

October 16, 2007

Poetry and My Life

There was a little mouse
who had a very little house
Three big mice got ice
but the little mouse said please
for a piece of cheese.

That's the first poem anyone remembers me writing. I was five, and I can still feel the jangling thrill of realization that came from MAKING a poem. The idea that I could pull something as real as a poem from the apparent nothingness of my small self was intoxicating.

I'm not sure why poetry seemed so real to me. My parents read to me all the time, but neither of them shared my particular love for poetry. There was something about the sound and feel of words that mattered to me, and I figured out pretty quickly that this meant that poets were my tribe.

As I grew, my deep and unquestioning affinity for poetry was periodically clouded by outside influences. I went through years of wondering where the other people who liked poetry were, wondering if maybe I'd been wrong, wondering if writing poetry was beyond my reach after all.

When I was in high school, and struggling to get beyond what I came to see as the major themes of adolescent poetry*, I visited my grandmothers in Florida and discovered a cache of my old letters to Nana. And there, pressed between school pictures and report cards, was the incontrovertible evidence; I had never STOPPED being a poet. I found page after page of poems that I had no memory of writing, but which were clearly written in my hand. And that, coupled with my discovery of Denise Levertov, ee cummings, and A.R. Ammons, sealed the deal: I was a poet, and no one could ever take that away from me or shame me out of claiming it.

So I am a poet. And sometimes it shows. As with my spirtual identity and my sexual identity, my identity as a poet is about my orientation to and relationship with the world. Since becoming a parent, I have written more haiku than any other kind of poem; my relationship with time has changed in these years, and I want to both mark its swift passage and relish those moments when it seems to fall away. I am a lover of words, and the the days when I am able to spend some time playing and working and wrestling with them in a spirit of creation are good days indeed. I write for myself, for my partner, for our son, for our friends, and sometimes for those I may never meet. And even when I am not writing, I'm still a poet.

So my goal, in this as in everything, is to continue to live into my gifts. To write more often than not. To be so completely "out" as a poet that no one – especially not me! – ever questions it.

Thanks for asking, Jillypoet! I am looking forward to reading other folks' contributions.

* The seven major themes of adolescent poetry, as I see them
(I work in a high school, so....):

"I love you, you love me"
"I love you, why don't you love me"
"Whoa, the world is amazing"
"My grandmother is/was a saint"
"No one could possibly understand how I feel"
"Current Events"

Not that it's impossible to write a good poem on any number of these themes,
just that in the swirl of hormonal surges it's sometimes hard to find your own voice.

(Thanks to the good women of Fertile Ground
for their creation of an inviting space.)

October 12, 2007

World of Work

I am a matchmaker and a storyteller. I am a counselor and a sounding board. I am a dreamcatcher and reality therapist. And I actually get paid for it all.

I work as a college counselor in the oldest independent school in New Jersey. It's a great job, especially so because so many people think it sounds like a terrible job. And you can read all about it over at my work blog, Relax. No really. I try not to write about my day job too much here... it's the kind of job that can pretty much suck up your life if you let it.

Back at the beginning of my working life, I had some pretty bad jobs. I blocked lenses at Winchester Optical. Really dull and fussy work, and no one my age within five miles. Except for some poor guy named Ted who REALLY wanted me to be his girlfriend. And we all know how that worked out. ;-)

Then I worked as a lifeguard at a hotel in the next town over. The summer I worked there, they were doing reconstruction work on an overpass that ran right near the pool. Between fending off the quasi passes of the creepy and pathetic sales dudes who were staying at the hotel, and vacuuming the construction silt out of the pool only to see it fill up again, it was a pretty long summer. Although I did have one fantastic day after I'd stayed up into the wee hours of the morning finishing Frank Herbert's Dune. I got to work with my head still full of a world in which liquid was a precious commodity... and dove into the pool. I've never felt so rich in my life.

Then, while in college, I worked the dishline. One day a tray of dirty dishes came down that had fruit stuffed in each one. As I struggled to keep up with the conveyor belt while simultaneously working to extricate the apples and oranges from the glasses, a glass broke. I spent the next few weeks with a sutured and bandaged wrist, frantically explaining to my new college friends that no, it was not a botched suicide attempt. Despite the accident, I preferred that job to the library job I thought I'd love... a supervisor who thought that the Dewey Decimal system was the received word of God pretty much ruined that one for me.

My best job – before the great one I have now – was probably my stint at a bookstore. I was a teenager, and had to convince the manager to bend his previously ironclad rule against hiring teenagers. I wore him down, I think! And then when he finally did hire me, he figured out pretty quickly that I knew more about poetry than anyone else in the store and let ME make the purchasing decsions. Sorry about that, Susan Polis Schultz.

I was so happy. And I poured about a third of my salary right back into the store. Good times.

Okay, gotta go work on a letter of reference now. Thanks for listening.

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)

October 11, 2007

Genius Hair II

A while back my blogfriend Wendy wrote a post about the genius hair that runs in her family. Last night young Mr. D and I went to our beloved Maria for haircuts, and I'm not sure about the genius part, but my boy for sure has at least some mad scientist action going on, doesn't he?

We're trying to give him the space to live his own life whenever we can, so I sat quietly reading during both the washing and cutting of Mr. D's hair, and was out of earshot while he and Miss Maria earnestly conferred.

Last time he tried a little flip at the front. Didn't last. Yesterday's brain storm was "sticky-up hair," as aided by the wonders of hair gel and Maria's magic touch. As of this morning, our bath-loving boy is back to showers, because he's figured out that sleeping on the sticky-up hair tends to mess with the overall effect.

So this morning he took a shower, then I took a shower, then we both got dressed and I tried emulate Maria's work. Turns out that she is the true creator of sticky-up hair, but I got it enough so that he was pleased. Tama says that she could tell from his body language as he headed into school that he was a little nervous, thinking that maybe he wasn't a "sticky-up hair" kind of guy after all.

But he left the school building today describing his day as "awesome," and shortly thereafter asked if he could take a shower again tomorrow morning. Three people, three showers. A glimpse of things to come.

October 10, 2007

Web Haiku

web across my face
as I walk to the street
and bring back the news

I have been working on this haiku for weeks. Every morning, as I am forgetting again that the spiders have a longer reach than would seem possible, I walk through a web face-first and remember that I want to record this little moment for myself.

I'm not sure this is the final version, but it's at least a version that I can share.

Working on it in little bursts throughout these first weeks of October has also reminded me of a turning point in my life as a parent. I remember how, in the first sleep-starved months, it seemed hard for me to hold onto a train of thought that was more than a few sentences long. Then one day, way suddenly re-opened and I could think again. Not all the time, and not necessarily deeply, but with some cherished continuity. My thought became like knitting, something I carried around with me and could take out at any moment to work through a few rows of a pleasing pattern. And so it has remained.

(Cross-posted at Autumn Haiku 2007)

October 05, 2007

Fun with Toys

After three years of paying for full-time care for Mr. D, we have been dealing with a certain amount of deferred maintenance. Our roof is new. Our new upstairs sink is almost installed. Powerwashing should be coming soon to our supposed-to-be white house. And now that the first crazy month of school is behind us, I'm carving out a little more play time. It helps to have a six-year-old in the house.

Here's D contemplating his Erector set options:

And here we are, hard at work on a fabulous helicopter:

Life is indeed good. And cameras with auto-shutter options? Totally rock.