March 19, 2016

Migraine comes unwanted.

Like Spring and Winter

In a tug-of-war

Migraine is the rope.

Like Past and Future

In a clash of wills.

Migraine numbs desire.

Like a blacksmith’s

fire and bellows

Migraine hammers the anvil.

Like the Ebb and Flow

of ocean waves

Migraine pounds 

And finally recedes.

 

March 18, 2016

I’m a day behind and a dollar short, as they say. But here’s the reason:

About 20 years ago, when my son was 18, we went on a “date” to a concert for his birthday and had so much fun that we decided to make it a tradition as often as we could. In the intervening years he has achieved a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree, married, and had 5 children. We haven’t always been able to make that “date” happen. Sometimes we heard bluegrass music, sometimes jazz, sometimes folk, sometimes classical.This year, we were determined to make time for mom and son. Danny sent me links to five or six concerts he was interested in. I got tickets for us.

Last night we heard Joshua Bell and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields perform at the Strathmore in Rockville, MD. If I knew the words that could convey the beauty of the performance, I would use them. I promise I would. But there really aren’t words that I know that go that wide and deep.

The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (don’t you just love that name?) is a chamber orchestra, and traditionally they play without a conductor. The principal violin is the leader as he/she plays.  It takes a great deal of listening, practice, knowing each other, and reading body language for such an ensemble to be successful. They were beyond successful. Every shade of dynamic; every nuance of phrasing; every motif passed from violin to clarinet to flute to cello was seamlessly elegant. I’ve never heard a live performance with such precision and attention to making every phrase lovely. Joshua Bell is young, but so musically mature. He plays a Stradivarius that is more than 300 years old. Hearing Mozart on a violin that was made during his era was magical.

A sweet bonus to the evening was finding that there is a picture book of the time Joshua Bell played his Stradivarius in the Metro in Washington DC (true story). It tells of a child who wanted to stop and listen, but was disappointed when the adults kept rushing by and didn’t stop. There are many lessons, comparable to close reading, in this sweet story.

Also, if you love Bach, Joshua Bell has just released a new CD that is all Bach. A bit of heaven.  I’m so glad I could spend the evening with my son.

March 17, 2016

Return.

Such a simple word.

Turn again.

Turn again to home.

Turn again to work.

Turn again to writing.

Revise.

Another simple word.

See again.

Return again to see anew.

True in writing.

True in my life.

 

March 16, 2016

 

I’m in Denver visiting my brother. I am the youngest in the family and he is the oldest. He left home for college when I was only 4 1/2, and we’ve lived our adult lives 2000 miles apart. Being busy raising our own families and not having too many shared memories has made it a challenge (at least for me) to have the closeness that I always wanted to have with him.

My memories with my brother up to my becoming an adult consist of:

  • the time we played cards and he thought I cheated (I didn’t.)
  • the time he surprised us by coming home from college for a weekend visit
  • the time he said, “This one’s for you, Mom.” and hit a home run
  • the time he came home from a game with his arm all bloody (Someone cleated him.)
  • the summer before he got married when he worked construction all day and waited tables at night and had to wear a suit and cumberbund
  • his wedding reception where I got embarrassed and cried (I was 8.)
  • a late night Yahtzee match
  • a day in the mountains fishing (We caught no fish, but the wildflowers were amazing)
  • the time he and his wife dressed up in red and white flannel nightshirts and put black licorice on their teeth and sang “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth”

Those are some memories that stand out, but I always wished there were more.

So I decided to come to Denver for a quick trip, just 2 days really, to hear him perform in an Easter choral concert at the University of Denver Newman Center. The music made me cry. (“Lamb of God” by Rob Gardner). I went both nights; both were incredible.

When I was 4 1/2 I knew my brother as a baseball wonder. Now I’m seeing him as a musician. He is a bass–basses are the foundation of the choir. Both baseball and music define much of the culture of my family’s experiences. You might think it is a strange combination, but both give access to expressing passion and both reward diligent practice. There are probably more connections, but I’ll save that for another time.

Today, my big brother took me to the Estes Park in Colorado for my first experience snowshoeing. As we drove up into the mountains, he said he had never seen the mountains so dry at this time of year. We didn’t see any snow at first, but we did see a pretty scraggly herd of elk and a small herd of mule deer with their big ears. As we drove up, the flurries started and I felt excited as if I were a child again. It started to snow harder and harder the more we climbed. We arrived at Bear Lake. There was a foot of fresh, soft, Rocky Mountain powder. It was windy and cold, but so still and quiet at the same time.

We put on our snowshoes and began the hike around the lake which was frozen and covered with snow. I had to trust him that there really was a lake there. I have a new sport to love. Snowshoeing was so much fun! I loved the feel of walking on top of deep snow, the pure white powder, the tall pines and huge boulders. But mostly, I loved being with my brother. He is so kind, supportive, and full of stories. Sometimes it’s hard to get him started, but he is a born storyteller. I’m glad he’s part of my story.

March 15, 2016

Like clockwork.

Only better.

Got up on time.

Train came on time.

Plane left on time.

Quiet seatmates.

Smooth ride.

No bumps.

Baggage claimed.

“Marilyn–”

“DAVID!”

My big brother’s huge embrace.

My childhood hero

In real life.

 

 

March 14, 2016

Happy Pi Day! 3.14

When I was a teenager, our church youth group met monthly on a Sunday night at our leader’s house for pie parties. There was always a variety of homemade pies–apple, pumpkin, cherry, chocolate cream, and sometimes strawberry, if they were in season. There was ice cream, cool whip, or the very fun squirt cans of whipped cream. We arrived around 7:00 p.m. and I’m sure some stayed until 10:00 or so.

Looking back, I’m sure that our leader’s wife (a mother of 6) should be sainted for so much work in the kitchen on behalf of a bunch of noisy, goofy teenagers while her husband got the credit for hosting the party. I’m not sure I would have the generosity of heart, hand, and mind to provide such a haven for young people. We laughed, teased, flirted, ate, and sometimes had a serious discussion about life in the late 60s, early 70s. Those were formative, bonding times that created friendships that are still vibrant after 45 years.  In fact, there is a reunion of this group coming up next August. Pie became a metaphor for friendship. I still think giving a pie is a lovely gift.

I bought a pie to celebrate Pi Day from The Pie Gourmet.  Mixed fruit with a crumb topping. Yum. I am able to bake a fairly good pie, but didn’t have the energy for that much mess today. I love to bake, but I’m a rather messy baker. Baking a pie is a multi-step process, and a pie-fail is so sad. I may go enjoy another bite now.

 

 

March 13, 2016

Ann Lamott posted a piece on Facebook today and asked if we are spending some time each day being here, now, or if we are like skeeter bugs on the water flitting about on the surface of life. I loved that image and know that at this moment my brain is like a skeeter bug because 2000 miles away, my beautiful, smart, resilient 3rd child and 1st daughter is in labor with her first baby. “The Little Chief,” as her husband calls him, decided to come a month early. My mind is in overdrive as I think about so many plans that will need to be rearranged at work and at home. But all for a joyful reason!

If I could stop being a skeeter bug on the water for a moment, would I dive down deep in the cool waters, or would I reach up to the tips of tree branches that sway overhead? In either case, the truth would be the same. Life with family is never predictable, but wholly reliable for bringing the wonders of love and a fragile balance of joys and sorrows. Of that, I am sure.

March 12, 2016

Oh goodness, just write something.

But nothing seems worth writing about.

It doesn’t matter. Ordinary things can make great stories.

Like the time Dad split his pants bending over to look at a can of paint at Sears?

Like the time my sisters and I measured our noses to see whose was bigger?

Like the time I pulled in the driveway and asked my kids where the red car was and they     said, “Mom, you’re driving it!”

Like the time we found starfish on the beach?

Like the time Tim made me laugh so hard I wet my pants?

Yeah, write stuff like that.

Okay. Maybe tomorrow.

 

March 11, 2016

I walked through the corridors of the Wilkinson Center (BYU student center) about 5:30 nearly every day of the fall and winter semesters of 1972-3. After a full day of classes, 2 hours of piano practice, and facing a ton of homework ahead, this detour was my few moments of relaxing and treating myself. Back then, BYU had a candy counter the likes of which I had never seen. AND you could buy 10 cents worth of any candy. Who could feel guilty about spending 10 cents? My 10 cents usually went for jelly beans or cinnamon bears which were so incredibly fresh. I’ve never had better jelly beans or cinnamon bears. The jelly beans included the brown ones that had a spicy flavor, but I actually liked black and yellow best.

It happened that several days a week I would cross paths with a boy I knew. He was an acquaintance, not really a close friend. However, he found it amusing that I usually had a small 10-cent bag of jelly beans and would say, “Hey, Jelly Bean! How are you?” Slightly embarrassed, I smiled and said, “Just fine,” offered him a jelly bean, and walked on.

Forty years later, our paths crossed again. “Hey, Jelly Bean! How are you?”

 

March 10, 2016

My OLW for 2016 is NOURISH, reminding me to nourish body, mind, and spirit.

Today I was nourished by:

  • Warm air and bright sunshine
  • Sally’s good Kidblog news (check here)
  • Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 playing in the office as I walked through
  • “Good morning, Mrs. Miner” from 100+ children at Kiss-and-Ride
  • Teachers discussing assessment results and going beyond levels in their thinking
  • An instructional coach’s skill with a challenging team
  • Teaching my LLI class
  • Seeing a picture of my sister and her husband kissing in Paris on their first trip there
  • Breathing in and out
  • Homemade chicken soup
  • A fresh apple
  • Maggie (almost 1 year!)
  • Maggie.PNG

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