Winter Up

Stay warm and stay pretty… Yes, my dears, this is the best advice for January!

Nine Cent Girl

Winter arrived in full force this week in the form of BIG Blizzard 2016, hitting multiple cities up the coast with two feet of snow. I’d say that event marks the time to winter up your outerwear if you haven’t already. When I think winter gear, there are a few companies that instantly pop into my mind: Burton & North Face for jackets, Sorel & Ugg for footwear. All are the best because they keep you dry and warm despite all bitter winter conditions, and you’ll get several years of wear from these well-crafted products. Wondering about style?

IMG_0008

View original post 597 more words

A Decade Worth Remembering

There is much to reflect on as the first hours of this first day on this new year come into being and the old memories fade, and that is as true for me as it is for all. 2010 to 2019 brought birth and death, graduation and setback, opportunity and foreclosure, and living in between. There have been thousands of sunsets, across the Swiss Alps, reflecting in city skyscrapers, melting into the Mediterranean, sweeping along my backyard, hitting the northern most tip of Prince Edward Island and illuminating the Pacific. Each one a precious lucky moment locked in my mind. Sometimes solitary but better with a crew, watching day’s end close with such a grand finale makes all the rest a better story to tell.

For much of this last decade I made an annual trek to read AP English Literature essays with a group of hundreds, and found among them a group of women I fell in love with, for their strength and wit and smarts and embrace of me. We worked like machines for 7 days straight but made sure to celebrate each year. I don’t know what the next decade holds for us, but I will treasure all the moments, loud or quiet, that we spent together doing that arduous and oh so rewarding task. The College Board may be a suspect organization, but these ladies are pure gems. They and other grand friends, some who I see everyday as I enter my work place, and others who I only see via Facebook, I will continue to treasure for all days. Friends are the best measure of a life worth living. As I look forward to the next decade I hope to see all these lovelies, and you too, again.

This whole natural world is worth seeing. Snowy mountain peaks, green river valleys, long stretches of prairie and miles of thick coniferous forests, rocky lonely shorelines and broad sandy coastlines, there is no end to the beauty outdoors. The decade began by sledding down the slopes of Château d’Oex, and ended snorkeling in the Pacific off of the Guanacaste coast of Costa Rica, with countless swims and hikes in between. There is really nothing like the freedom of diving in or climbing along. Standing on the ledge of the Grand Canyon one feels so very tiny, so very inconsequential, and at the same time so empowered with the force that lifts us up.

As impressive as nature’s cathedral, as are man’s. The Duomo di Firenze captivated me for an entire day with the dome, the crypt, the baptistery, and the cathedral itself. This decade I also stood under Michelangelo’s opulent Sistine Chapel ceiling, and listened to the bells ring out from Notre Dame in Paris and St. Patrick’s in New York. I watched the sun set beyond the Statue of Liberty in our greatest harbor and while glancing back to the Eiffel tower from the Seine. I walked hundreds of miles of city pavement to see the craftsmanship of Venice and Geneva, and the ancient ruins of Ostia Antica and Arles. Man has raised monuments that cause us all to stop, observe, and wonder at such dedication to the noblest of ideals. I am blessed to have entered so many towering structures, and in some with students. For all of this decade, and the one before, I have had the good fortune to be a teacher. Sharing words and ideas in my classroom has been my daily reward. But I have also stood in awe with students, ushering them onto buses or planes, trains or boats, from the tops of the Swiss alps to a Venetian gondola, along the waterways of Lake Como and across Lake Geneva, overseeing Vatican City from St. Peter’s dome to watching monkey’s crisscross the trees in Palo Verde National Park. Hundreds and hundreds of students have passed through my life, and I am richly rewarded by all they have granted me.

I have moved many times this decade, and a few of these shifts were filled with loss and grief. Each time we landed and watched the dawn from a new vantage point we realized we were going to be okay. On the tough days we echoed refrains to keep our chins up, our eyes forward, and matched on. We let go of what we could, we dragged along the rest, but in the end there was always we two, and that felt like the best door prize we could hope for. Same-sex marriage became legal this decade, which allowed us benefits we dreamt of forever. Entering our third decade together, my spouse and me are forged by time, tested by joys, and rewarded with all that the unknown offers. We are buoyed by our children, whose lives have made ours busy, with their passions and break-ups, their accomplishments too. This decade they all ventured away from home, making their own mark, their own industry, and their own truth. Our family is bigger through their friendships and loves, their versions and visions, and by inviting us to join their crews. I am never happier than with all of them, still.

This last decade did bring the births of some quite marvelous and zany little people but it brought death too. All our mothers are gone. God-mothers and birth mothers and even special aunts. Not a day goes by that we don’t miss them. They were bigger and brighter and wore everything better than we will ever, and their legacy courses through our days and nights; our happy moments sitting in the Metropolitan Opera or dipping toes into the Long Island Sound bring back their laughter. They remind me to tell the very best versions of life. To ask for more. To accept what comes instead. Their’s were not the only deaths this decade. I would be remiss if I did not mention the horrific gun violence, made worse on the daily. The rise of school shootings, as well as violence propagated by anti-semitism and anti-queer, as well as every form of racism, has filled our headlines. This painful reality is our America now, with no clear vision to curb the epidemic. We have lost our way. Perhaps it was inevitable in a country driven by lobbyists and the 1%, but I do hope that protecting children will become more of a priority than stockpiling military-style weapons. Imagine that world? That would be miraculous.

Looking back and ahead, there is really only one thing that I know for sure, which is all the wonderful beings that pop in and out of my life, at odd moments or the most critical ones, and who love and understand me, are at my very core, driving my purpose, connected in ways that unfold as they do, with crazy. Love is binding.

This next decade stretches ahead as a blank roll of cloth, ready to be patterned, cut and sewn into a wondrous garment. I hope to wear it better. I hope we all do. Happy 2020 dear ones. May your brightest stars shine on!

 

 

 

 

high crimes and misdemeanors

“The charge of high crimes and misdemeanors covers allegations of misconduct by officials. Offenses by officials also include ordinary crimes, but perhaps with different standards of proof and punishment than for non-officials, on the grounds that more is expected of officials by their oaths of office” Wikipedia.

Perhaps there is the catch… in the very notion that this President took an oath to uphold anything expected. Or is his reign a venture into a new America where one man rules unchecked and applauded like the clown in the Dunk Bozo booth at your local fair where gawkers stand in shame listening to off-color taunts? Patterns are clear. Regardless of whether you voted for Trump or not, can you say that he is a role model for you or your teenager? Someone you would trust with your college-age niece? If you say yes, are you for sure 100% sure?

Maybe you admire his fuck-you approach, his drain-the-swamp rhetoric, his glossy but vacant third wife, or the fact that he is someone you imagine you might be able to beat on the links? I get it, no really I do. It’s not that complicated. You’re an all caps person too. Someone who likes to scream on social media with font size oversized: am I right? Someone who runs your business or manages your affairs by insults? He’s your guy.

 

I really can’t say that I fully understand how electricity works, but I know how to turn the dimmer switches in my living room. While I’m not a constitutional scholar, I know enough to know not to bargain over illicit political gains via a party phone, but more than that, morally speaking, I know not to insult a beloved community member whose widow is facing her first Christmas without her person of almost 4 decades, and I think most of us get that is just shitty behavior which I would not tolerate in my classroom or home or pew yet every Republican suit-wearing political secretly smiles about. (Do you really smile and like his frat boy locker boy prattle? Please explain!) His party will not call this guy to task over anything. Not high crimes or misdemeanors or crash and unrelenting rudeness or documented infidelity or tantrums in the Oval office or ignorance on basic knowledge or any of the misleading misinformation that he tweets by the hour. Seriously? I’m struggling.

(Philip Bump/The Washington Post)

I wish they would though. I just wish someone close to him might remind him that he is leading a nation. Our great nation. And I get that it bothers him that people disagree with his version of climate change, military policies, international concerns, maybe even what to eat for dinner, but many do. Disagree. Take health care for instance. People have differences on the topic, so that to bridge that gap, a sensible debate is needed to navigate though it all. But that is a distant dream, one born from my ultra liberal and highly educated stance on the basic needs of humans to grow and develop and become the very best that this nation desperately needs to face our challenges.

Please don’t assume I’m happy about these headlines. I’m not. I am frustrated by the party divide, our paid-by-us politicians (including the President) who do nothing except fan the fire of division. I want a better world. One where all the students who sit in my class room arrive with a full belly and warm clothes, coming from a home of books and love that let’s them imagine a terrific life ahead for themselves, where whether through trade or commerce they build their future and extend our community in ways I can yet imagine. Ways that bred betterment.

What I don’t want is a President who is supported by the world’s favorite dictator. Any of them who he admires.

 

Vladimir Putin says Trump was impeached for ‘made-up reasons’

Oh Christmas Tree

Sprucing up for the holidays? How do you bring in the green? Oh Christmas Tree!

Nine Cent Girl

There is a cut-your-own tradition in Vermont with Christmas trees. Decades ago when my family first started to have Thanksgiving here, we’d tag our tree during that long weekend. Then, weeks later, we’d head back to the farm, with sled in tow and saw in hand, we’d try to find our special tree. There were years when we’d have to trudge through feet of snow, and on hands and knees, dig our way down to find the trunk. Frozen fingers wrapped around the saw we’d tug back and forth until it was cut through. Oh those fresh trees would fill the house with everything Christmas. Sweet pine. Cold air and snow. Even the mountain view came into our living room with that smell.

Christmas Tree Farm

View original post 714 more words

Giving Thanks

There are many days that come in with a brilliant dawn and race into blue. Days when every piece fits with precision and one knows exactly why they are doing what it is they do. These are the golden days we cheer on, the days we hold on to, the very ones we celebrate. But there are others. Messy and awkward and ugly. When we wander, lost, lonely and even in fear. Today, we gather those up too, as we scoop up the mashed potatoes onto our too full plates, and unburden ourselves with those who know us, and yet, love us still.

Continue reading