June 2014


Today was quite a day. The kids finally got off to school near ten, when AAA released their keys from inside the car. The day care had been going over an hour by then. Richard then got on his way to Connecticut to visit with his mom. The other end of the day, after all the day care kids went home, I filled with errands, since my kids were spending the night in Framingham, traffic across town to an appointment near Fenway Park, where there wasn’t much parking due to a Red Sox game, work time in a coffee shop nearby, then groceries, banking, carrying in and putting away the food near ten, a smoothie of pureed fruit salad and frozen banana for dinner on the hammock in the backyard, not much of a dinner, but a fine place to dine.

Hammock in the backyard you say? Why, yes. Just because our Somerville garden is the size of a postage stamp didn’t stop me from going to Ace Hardware before dinner Saturday night and coming home with a hammock, a hammock stand, and a car load of groceries..and setting the whole thing up while barbecuing/burning burgers on the grill and commanding the crowd through the preparation of a decent meal, first at home together in a week.

There is something about Father’s Day that pushes my buttons. Probably lots of things. No father for me, no father in the house for the kids for a start. This Father’s Day, to complicate the matter, was supposed to be Mother’s Day, suggestion of my daughter, to avoid having to switch our alternating between mom’s and dad’s house weeks..So, after hammock buying and setting up, and dinner making and eating, and hammock swinging and dishes came Mother’s Day pie baking..a strawberry rhubarb pie, ingredients from the Shaw’s beside Ace Hardware, pie power produced by Jonah my boy the baker and me, mother to be celebrated with the promised strawberry rhubarb pie, or else.

This time there were one strawberry rhubarb pie, made by my boy and me for Mother’s Day, and three tiny gluten free strawberry rhubarb blueberry pies for Father’s Day, for my gluten free guy. Wahoo..Had my third piece about a half an hour ago, around 11, last course in my several course evening grazing…belgian chocolate brioche at the coffee shop while I worked, and drank coffee to pump me up for late night grocery shopping, then smoothie in the hammock around 10, cold pork loin at the table near 10:30, pie around 11, now an attempt at bed near midnight, in the warm third floor, 87 when I arrived, cooling slowly with the ceiling fan and air conditioner, only one running in the house, trying not to feel too anti-green running these machines so early in the year.

The hammock after shopping and errands was a fine, fine thing. Above the hammock I studied the overhanging branches of junk trees, mulberry and Norway Maple, grown enormous in the twenty some years since I arrived, none planted intentionally, all thriving on our neighborhood’s neglect, not a neighborhood of gardeners or lawn enthusiasts, but a place I now feel surrounded by green leaves, whether in my third floor bedroom or in the hammock in the yard.

I’ll need to move the hammock when mulberry season arrives, unless I want to swing in a bed of mulberry mash, which I don’t. I wonder as I lie there if I could trim back all these trees, mulberry branches overhanging the house roof, more overhanging the hammock, maples grown up in the last few years from over the fence where the landlord hardly cares. I don’t imagine I can trim them by myself, nor do I imagine it would be wise to follow the other plan I had this weekend, hiring someone to clean the gutters, and seeing if they would trim back the trees from the house at the same time. It seems I’m going to need a tree service, as well as a driveway crew, an electrician, and who knows who else, to restore order to this place gone wild. Ah, well, the hammock was more relaxing when I wasn’t thinking that way.

It’s been years since my family has treated the yard as it’s own. The back is filled with day care kids most afternoons its not too dark or wet, from April or May through September or October. There are a tree house, a climber, teeter totter toys, buckets, shovels, bubbles, goggles, rakes, brooms, all in child size. What there hasn’t been til this weekend is a hammock. Now there is. We shall see how that goes.

Well, I wrote a long bit about how my suitcase is rarely unpacked, and when I thought I’d published it, I found it had disappeared. Sort of ironic, as the ending of the piece was about thinking and writing about a dream to make a home someplace between my unpacked suitcase and my overstuffed house, and how that thinking and writing could make the wish come true.

I can’t find the piece. It disappeared as did my day care observations last week, no autosave, no tracings on my computer or on the net. My impulse is not to recreate the piece, but to move on, to perhaps unpack my suitcase in real life, to unload the groceries waiting on the steps in their bags, to clear out the refrigerator to make room for the cold things, to take a look at my work bag full of bills and papers, to make a call or two, to shower, maybe do a load of laundry, to eat some lunch, ideally to take a short walk, before the afternoon in day care. All these things are the daily tasks of living which fill my Thursdays mornings “off”. Seems hard to remember how I managed all this stuff when I was working with the kids four and a half or five days a week, though clearly traveling to Northampton and elsewhere on the weekends, many times for a long weekend, is a choice keeping me away from home and work I might do here. Which is what the piece I had written was about, the questioning of the sustainability and way of living more nomadically, where stuff and place don’t matter so much as they used to in my life, where the suitcase of clothes and a book or two, along with a small backpack of work stuff are mostly what I need, and where this house is a landing place as much as a place to live a full life. Finding a way to feel life on the road as whole and integrated is a challenge I’m working to face. Time to stop writing and to start doing other things, morning flying by, and to wonder again, where the words I’d already typed, and hoped to reread and share, have gone, not retrievable by me in memory or on the computer, hard to believe in this computer age that they are simply gone.

It’s been a busy week. We’ve just hired a replacement for one of our day care teachers, who will retire this summer at nearly seventy, after a good long run of caring for children. I was up last night with the new person, first talking with her and Liana about how  we’ll work together, then going over contract details, lastly, sorting out the process of becoming certified to work in a family child care, for this woman with multiple degrees and experiences in child care programs throughout her life. This weekend I was on Martha’s Vineyard with my guy, first spending time with friends there to honor their son, who died last spring the week before my guy and I met, then to enjoy the island with my guy. We swam, ate, biked, walked, and explored, returning home latish Monday night. The week before that the kids were here, preparing for a week away at Nickerson camping with their friends from school, my daughter’s favorite week of the year, according to her.

It’s a busy, but relatively quiet place in life, no huge projects on my agenda, some time off to play and work at my own pace, house not falling apart, bills getting paid, bank accounts not growing, but holding up. I’m not making a charter school, nor starting a homeschooling program, nor expanding or reshaping our day care in significant ways. Subtle shifts, new caregiver, new baby this past week, another on her way at the end of the month, a few school age kids with us over the summer, not many this year, as our program is slowly shifting to year round for most, if not eventually all, from a balance of full year and school year and summer kids.

Feels like I am gradually moving to a life of greater quiet, but who knows. The retreats in Gilchrist, where I spent a week each summer for four years in a cabin in Michigan, with meditation and quiet conversation the noise in the day, much of it much quieter than that, come to mind when I contemplate the future. When I considered a career at SVS last year, part of me knew I wanted a quieter old age, not to go out supporting a school full force, but to have the option to slow down bit by bit, to spend more time in the water, at the beach, in the woods, walking, swimming, reading, maybe writing, with the folks to which I am closest, not necessarily in an ever-expanding circle, but perhaps in a gently shrinking one.

Last week I also sorted out summer plans. This year the main deals will be a family reunion and a high school reunion on two separate weekends with my mom in Western, New York, a week in Ashfield, with just me and Richard and the kids, maybe some visiting friends, but not the house mates, and some time with Richard on our own and with his kids and friends the following week. This will be the first year in about eighteen I won’t have a vacation with my college friends and Ashfield housemates, as they are sending their oldest off to college the week we planned to get together, combining that with a  return to Michigan where they started their family out. This will also be the first time I will spend two whole weeks with Richard, a milestone of it’s own in a life as disintegrated as integrated in many ways the last few years. To spend two weeks in a row with one person has been rare. Carla, who visited from Spain two weeks and who introduced me to Richard at the end of her trip, was the last person with whom I spent two weeks, first one since my divorce. Many folks my age take that sort of companionship for granted, whether with a spouse or children or even co-workers. I don’t. I look forward to it a whole lot.

Time to be up and start the sunny day. Another day care day for me of small kids, familiar adults, lived in my home and neighborhood of over twenty years, with colleagues I’ve known nearly as long, finished with an outing to Sharing Circle at Cambridge Friends Meeting, a place I now spend Wednesday evenings when my kids and Richard are away, without my usual salad contribution, as my salad drawer is bare, must come up with an alternate contribution to the meal I love to share, with an expanding and ever-changing small group of people I look forward to seeing every other week as long as we each and all are able. Small steps toward enlarging the circle are about my speed right now, a meal, a conversation, then home for bed and to rest before starting another relatively quiet day. Middle age passes this way for me, one day at a time, happy for the sunshine when it comes, new rain coat in the mail for when it doesn’t, as my favorite workhorse rain coat gave out last Thursday on my walk to Davis Square.