April 30, 2008

dogwood blossoms
and the layered space
in between

(Mr. D's comment this morning:
"Tama, I never knew that climbing tree
was so beautiful.")

NaPoWriMo 08

April 29, 2008


Recently I contributed to Liz Davis' Collective Intelligence wiki with some thoughts about how social networking tools have affected my practices as a learner and teacher. Here's another way the internet is changing my perspective.

Quaker Jonah McDonald was moved by the tragedy of Katrina's aftermath, and decided to go on a personal pilgrimmage. He raised close to $8,000 dollars.

Coudal Partners started thinking about making a short film, and recruited executive producers via their email list and website. The film has now been completed and is available for sale. (Executive producers got a special preview copy and other schwag from Coudal Partners.)

For Christmas this past year, I gave money to Aparicia Ramirez in honor of my brother Steve. Kiva.org helped me find her.

Artist David Horvitz creates artistic collaborations with his viewers... for a pre-determined price.

Violinist Robert Thompson wondered about the reliability of an organization that was collecting money to help support the purchase of livestock for impoverished farmers. His questions ended up leading to a kind of quest (the movie is about 8 minutes long):

And now blogger/illustrator Jen Lemen is heading to Rwanda to connect with her friend Odette's children and to make a difference in girls' lives there. I have been reading Jen's blog and admiring both her art and her spirit for quite some time. I've never met her. I have no overt connection to her. But I feel a sense of connection to her because of her clarity of spirit, transmitted to me via the power of the internet, and I'm about to act on it.

I am making everyone in my family a lunch every day this week so that I can toss a little "lunch money" Jen's way. (You can add your name to the list of folks providing financial support via the J. Lemen -> Rwanda widget in my side bar at right.) Alternatively or additionally, you could spend some time in the next few days creating some hand-written messages of hope for the girls via HopeRevo. What are you doing Sunday afternoon? Wanna come over and make one of these cards? How about after Quaker Meeting?

Haiku - Song Birds


to think of them at night —
song birds

(Tip o' the hat to Hannah,
who somehow somewhat inspired this haiku.)

Katja, I love your store, Skimbaco.
Apparently, I love it a little too much.
Look what happened while I was absorbed in
shopping on your site.
Too much great stuff = carbon-flavored Pop-tarts.

In other news, here are Mr. D and his fabulous aunt J.
There is nothing quite as wonderful as a friend
who really "gets" you. Our little man is blessed.
Also? In it for laughs, just like his mama.

April 28, 2008

New Grass Haiku

new grass blades
thread their way up
through rain

(In other news, check out Ikea's brilliant idea
for making inroads in Japan over here.
Hat tip to the incomparable Tara Hunt.)

April 27, 2008

azaleas and peonies
make a break for it

(This month may mark the first time
that BOTH of the haiku I submitted
to the monthly kukai over at haikuworld
received more than one vote.
I'm still in awe of many of these haijin,
but it is enough to be alive and trying.
Votes and points are a lovely bonus.)

April 26, 2008

fighting cats
leaving us all lying awake
longing for peace

(I went letterboxing for the first time today
and had a predictably great time.
Will try to write more about it soon.)

April 25, 2008

Haiku - Explanation

mourning doves
explaining the world to us
one more time


Here's the D-man with "his" giant Star Wars visual encyclopedia. (Otherwise known as heaven.) He was struck with a sudden case of shyness upstairs at the library, and didn't want to ask the reference librarian for help. I insisted that it was his job. We compromised and decided to write a note together (wish I had a picture of that)... "STaR WArS SecTion?" He handed it to the nearest librarian, who read it, smiled and led Mr. D off into the stacks, at which point all shyness vanished as he reverted back to his typically chatty self. Once the magical tome was secured, he couldn't stand to wait even the 10 minutes it would have taken us to get home, instead plunking himself down on a handy bench and reverently opening the book. In this picture he is explaining the dangers of this particular monster to me; it's fun for me to have a picture of his "patient teacher who knows all about it" face. And thinking about his penchant for explaining must be part of how I wound up at today's haiku.

(It's gotten to the point that a post
doesn't feel complete to me w/o a postscript.
So, completely off-topic: got me some snowflake rubber stamps
that are actually hexagonal in their design structure;
bet I'll never use the square-ish ones again.)

April 24, 2008

warmer days –
in the cardinal's beak
a bit of nest

April 23, 2008

Haiku - Gratitude

blossoms opening
and my grateful heart, too —
impossibly wide

This evening I saw my school's opening preview performance of The Laramie Project. I was a little bit worried about it, because I've seen the play before and was predicting, based on that and on my personal experiences at the time of Matthew Shepard's death, that it would be a very emotional event for me. It's the faculty who are invited to attend the opening preview, and I was uncomfortable with the idea of my colleagues seeing me wrecked. But I couldn't not go. So I went, and did cry during the show, but not more than anyone else, I think. The actors, all high school students, did a fantastic job. I thanked the amazing director. I walked out slowly, walking in that way you do when you're carrying an overfull cup, trying not to let what I was feeling spill over. Just outside the theater, I came to where the students were waiting in a kind of receiving group. And I just stood there with my hands together, palm to palm at my heart and pointing towards them. I stood there thanking them in halting, unplanned words, and as I spoke I cried. I told them that it was impossible to explain what this meant to me, to our community. And that although I've seen the play before, it is this production that will forever be the one that defines this play for me. I am so proud of them, and so deeply grateful. They surrounded me in a hug, and somehow I managed to drive home.

April 22, 2008

morning fog so thick
we talk about it
at bedtime

(Some more of my fog-inspired writing is here.)

April 21, 2008

Forever Family Day #7

late spring —
the Earth invites us closer

and we accept

Today was our celebration of Forever Family Day, a term we borrowed from my friend Becky, who uses it to refer to the day when an adoption is finalized. (My fabulous T had to adopt our Mr. D because as far as the federal government is concerned we're just close personal friends.) We didn't realize how important this day was to Mr. D until last year, when he asked us sometime in February, "When is Forever Family Day?" We couldn't even remember what we'd done the previous year, so we asked him, "What is it that you're looking forward to so much?" And he said, "I just like that we're all together, just us, for the whole day, and we can do whatever we want to do as a family."

Put like that, it did sound pretty great. So we went out and had ourselves a day as he described. This year we did it again.

Pancakes for breakfast and games in the morning, followed by a noodling bike ride and lunch, followed by more games and a long romp in the Battlefield Park. Then a trip to the library, where we reconfirmed our deep and abiding love of reference librarians, returning home for a family dinner and a "Harry Potter bath" for Mr. D (he bathes, I read him some Harry Potter). It was a great day.

We are all tired and happy. And so, to bed. Happy Forever Family Day.

April 20, 2008

Haiku -Bamboo

our bamboo
rattled by a breeze
then shushing itself

(No matter how many haiku I write,
it continues to seem like alchemy
when the words I arrive at
reflect both my inner state
and my outward observation.
When will I no longer be surprised?)

(In other news,
we're having some connectivity issues
here at the homestead,
but will probably not care much tomorrow
as we celebrate Forever Family day.)

April 19, 2008

first warm days —
lemonade stands and tulips
popping up

(I have a great picture for this,
and now that I'm back have posted it above.

In other news, Ms. T's and my role-playing adventure
went quite nicely. She ended up wishing she'd gone
heavier on swordcraft and lighter on magic,
and thinks she might prefer being the gamemaster
to being a mere player - why am I not surprised? -
but it was so absorbing that I forgot to take a single picture!
The action was all in our heads, anyway.
Thanks, Family Game Store!)

April 18, 2008

Haiku - Vows

morning in my town –
bees and their blossoms
renewing vows

(Look, I can actually write haiku in the MORNING!
Cross-posted at Spring Haiku 2008.)

April 17, 2008

Haiku - Petals

petals everywhere —
home seeming even sweeter
as I pack to go

(I'm heading down to MD tomorrow
for some Special Time with a certain 10 year-old someone.)

April 16, 2008

Magnolia Haiku

magnolia petals
catching and spilling the light
all the way down

(hope to be able to take some pictures tomorrow)

April 15, 2008

More Sky Haiku

more sky
where the old tree
used to be

This tree at the corner of Prospect and Riverside East came down a few weeks back. All day long the next day, neighbors were walking or driving past, slowing down to take a look or standing silently near the section of trunk that had to be cut up and removed from the road. That same day a friend told me that she thinks she remembers learning that there are cultures in which a baby's first laugh is cause for an official celebration. The passing of an old tree like this one seems like a similar type of event: one worth marking in some way.

Mr. D says he thinks the tree was about 75 years old when it fell.

April 14, 2008

Spring Evening Haiku

after winter's dark fastballs
some off-speed pitches

(Cross-posted at Twitter's @haikutime
and Spring Haiku 2008)
(In other news, it turns out that
the Corning Classic and Reunions
don't overlap after all!
See you next month, Grandbanana!)

April 13, 2008

Between Seasons Haiku

scents between seasons...
yesterday, onion grass
today, chimney smoke


Yesterday we had several visitors, and the smallest one made the biggest impression:

That's little T.M. Michaud, and he's every bit as snuggly as his picture would have you believe. We all went into a little baby withdrawal today, and Mr. D responded by creating a baby out of the available materials:

You know you've hit the parental jackpot when you ask your Tama if you can dress her up like a baby and take a picture of her, and she says, "Sure, sweetie." And yes, I have her permission to post that picture, because her boy loves the idea. Super Tama!

(In other news, can you believe they
jackhammered down
to that Red Sox jersey?
Un. Be. Liev. Able.)

April 12, 2008

fruit tree branches —
from line drawings to pastels

(In other news, we had a great visit with J, Z, M,
and tiny little T today!)

April 11, 2008

Forsythia Haiku

dusk nearing dark —
even the forsythia
gives in to grey


Seeing the way less light takes its toll on the colors of the world — at least as I perceive them — reminds me of another time when my way of seeing the world shifted. The first full day that T and I spent together in Philadelphia was a day like any other. We walked around town, ate a famously nondescript (and now defunct) restaurant, I don't even remember what else. But it felt wonderful, full of smiles and laughter, and as she left I experienced a burst of acute awareness... the color seemed to go out of the day, and I thought, "Oh, it was she who made the day special," with a kind of bemused wonderment. Anyone who had seen us together that day would probably have come to that conclusion much earlier. But I didn't figure it out until the door closed behind her as she walked down the stoop to her car parked on Cedar Avenue.

April 10, 2008

at the window
buzzing to get out —
the fly and I

(another long day)

April 09, 2008

Magnolia Haiku

our magnolia tree
full of birds
warming up their songs

(Long day today. Projecting myself into tomorrow morning.)

April 08, 2008

Spring Sun Haiku

spring sun —
bright green leaf and I
open, surrender

(Thanks again to @howard
for the seed word.)

April 07, 2008

White pear blossoms
jostling for position
in the sun

(Cross-posted on my Twitter account.)

April 06, 2008

the bamboo tries once more
to straighten up

(Still thinking about MLK
and what we lost - and didn't lose - with him.)

April 05, 2008

I close my eyes
the better to hear birdsong, and rise

~ ~ ~

(Shout-out to my Twitter swapmate Howard,
who traded haiku "seed words" with me;
he sent me "rejuvenation" (well, sort of),
and I sent him "leaning," which he wove into a haiku here.)

We saw Argonautika at McCarter today. Jason and his crew of heroes and demi-gods are sent on a fool's mission from which no one expects them to return. But they have the support of Hera and Athena, two powerful goddesses who put their thumbs down on Jason's side of the scale. This drama takes place before the story told in Euripides Medea, which I saw almost 10 years ago (also at McCarter, with Zoe Caldwell in the title role). The predictability of the foolhardy, the senselessness of death, the elusivity of forgiveness, and the power of love to wound as well as to heal... there's a reason that the old stories are still with us. Tomorrow is the last day of the run.

April 04, 2008

Grass Haiku

(Image: via ecstaticist on Flickr)

Our boy stops to ask

how the grass knows
when to start

(I have pics to upload, letters to write,
taxes to file, laundry to fold,
and I need to get back to being a member in good standing
in the Church of Monthly Backup.
But at least I wrote a haiku today.)

And did you see that Photoshop has a
slimmed down free online version? Uh-oh. :-)

April 03, 2008

Rain Haiku II

the rain and the moon
shining up my street

(Kind of a reverse haiku, in shape.
Do you know what I mean by shining up?
The way you shine up a penny, or an apple?)

April 02, 2008

Race Haiku

On the way to work
not caring about winning
I race the creek

(Thought there might be more than one today.
Apparently not.)

April 01, 2008

Spring Haiku

without knowing why
I reach up to touch a new
unfurling leaf


spring thaw —
an old friend reaches
for the phone

(A special "thank you" to Wendy,
who helps keep me going.
I also tried to write about
the particularity of the green of new leaves,
but I couldn't quite get it.
Perhaps I should have taken some time outside
with my camera today.)

Getting a Late Start

We were well into our 30's by the time Mr. D entered our lives.

Sometimes, when the exhaustion seems bottomless, we wonder if maybe those folks who start their families while still in their 20's had the right idea.

But in our brighter moments, there are times when we feel quite clever. Before we became parents, my partner and I had been a couple for almost nine years. In that time we'd taken two three-week vacations (and many more two-week ones), gone tent camping in the Pecos Mountains of New Mexico, enjoyed the puffins and bald eagles of Nova Scotia, and an international fireworks competition over English Bay in Vancouver. We read a lot. We slept in. In short, we stocked up on all sorts of delightful experiences that are now somewhat out of reach to us as parents of a young child. The waiting to be parents seems to have made us less likely to complain about the changes Mr. D's arrival brought to our lives.

Because we thought about parenting for so long before we became parents, we've had plenty of time to think about what matters to us. We're big on manners. We decided before Mr. D was born that one of the things we were least prepared for was a child who whined, "I'm bored," and in our home the word "bored" has terrible connotations: boredom tends to afflict those whose brains are not working well. A medical professional may need to be consulted.

My partner's overarching guideline for parenting is, "Say yes as often as you can, and no only when you really need to." Similarly, mine is something along the lines of, "Legos first, clean up later." As older parents, we had lots of time to talk through our approach to parenting with each other. We read books, we talked about our own childhoods, and we watched our friends going through it. We rarely disagree about a parenting choice, and when we do, we've been pretty successful in talking it out. (The other day, I can't remember how it came up, I asked Mr. D if he thought his parents argued more than most, less than most, or about the same as most, and we were so pleased when he said, "I think you argue much less, because you hardly EVER argue.")

The piece about being an older parent that I am most grateful for is the patience and mindfulness that I am able to access with greater regularity now. In the last few years, for the first time in my life, I have started to feel the benefit of my experience kicking in. When I hit a snag, I can remember all the other snags, and calm myself down a bit with remembering how I managed to get past them. When I'm tired and hungry, I recognize that my darkening mood is connected to my physical state, and can sometimes even see my way to granting myself the gift of some time outside watching the sky. I've made enough mistakes that my apology muscles are in pretty good shape, and I crave the healing that forgiveness makes possible. In all of these things, I feel much better prepared to model emotional intelligence and stability for our young son — at least when I'm not tired and hungry!

So here's to older parents, hopefully making up for our relative lack of energy with all kinds of compensating strengths!

(Thanks to Kelley,
whose musings were part of the inspiration for this post.
In other news, it's national poetry month.
I'm going to see if I can write a haiku a day —
let's watch!)