Gourds, and whatnot

Hi friends,

A few odds and ends to share here at the end of October 2020. 

I voted early and in person last week. It felt really weird and emotional. I’m still wearing my sticker (at this moment). I guess the truth is that this year has been so bizarre, with all of its plot twists and so much drama, real and manufactured, that I, while not prepared for it, have no expectation that the next month will proceed in any sensible, rational, or predictable way. I have no idea what is around the corner. But nothing that is around the corner is simple or easy.

One refrain that keeps occurring: we need to hold on less tightly to our identities and to the categories we assign to other people. We need bridges and to try to create opening. Nothing changes by dehumanizing anyone, except making the world less humane.

Whatever happens (gulp), I promise myself that I will keep trying.

Other than that my biggest news, I guess, is that Dave vacuumed the stairs that lead down to the basement, effectively reclaiming a whole new section of the house. Each time I walk up or down on that lofty, blue, hair-free carpet I feel, well, I think it’s accurate to say that it sparks joy.

Maggie was given an email account at school for corresponding with her teachers. Her account is limited to a set of approved addresses pending a future scholastic opportunity to learn about perverts. Don’t imagine she hasn’t tried to test the boundaries. This has led to rollicking fun as Maggie has lengthy email exchanges with her newest friend, Mail Delivery Subsystem, who disappointingly always replies in what she considers his characteristically cheeky fashion: with the exact same words over and over just to be aggravating. Apparently she has also been having conversations with the Zoom support robot or a pervert masquerading as such.

Halloween: Pretending and imagining is fun. I have always loved to dress up. I enjoy walking with a flashlight in the beautiful, crisp October night, seeing the pumpkins flickering, glowing from the inside. Going door to door in your own neighborhood (not this year!) connects you to the place and the real people living in the real houses on the real street where you are currently spending your life. Sharing and being shared with is important and life-giving. Traditions orient us to the seasons and help place our life into a rhythm.

There. I said some nice things about Halloween and did not focus on the fake spiderwebs, plastic skeletons, disembodied bloodshot eyeballs, malodorous polyester disguises, oversweetened child-labor chocolates of addiction, and the glorification of highly disturbing, psychologically questionable, money-making sickos that have haunted many of us since way too early in our 80’s childhood. I didn’t talk about the weird murder-glam that adorns my neighbors lawns. And I didn’t talk about how commercial Halloween seems to me now compared to when I used a garbage bag and some tape to dress like a California raisin and walk down the street with a pillowcase filled or filling with candy.

I will raise a question about the practice of trading kids a new toy in exchange for their candy (apparently this happens now). Yes, they don’t need all of the candy. They also don’t need a new toy. And, just maybe, providing one says: we always need new shit to be happy. Full disclosure (and because I’m perfect) we say: hey kids, all this candy is not good for your bodies, how about you pick 10-15 pieces (number has grown as they’ve gotten older) to keep and we’ll share the rest with people who don’t have any unhealthy candy (yes, it is also not good for their bodies). One child might mention her friend who is visited by the Great Pumpkin (an entity who visits on Halloween night and trades children candy for a toy, the latest addition to Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, The Elf on the Shelf, and now this pumpkin guy who we are all supposed to share some cultural understanding of and not be weird about. Who are these random jokers coming into our homes? Why do we keep making more of them?) to which I respond: We have enough. We have more than enough. And then they eat a few pieces of candy and that’s that.

Corona? Dave is still at home all day every day. His dad is over 80 and lives alone in the UK so we wonder what will happen if his dad gets sick. Dave isn’t a US citizen yet (but paperwork has been submitted!) so if he leaves we aren’t sure he could come back, or when. The kids have gotten flu shots but Dave and I haven’t yet. Last week the kids had their first week of fully-masked, mostly outdoor, in-person school for a mostly full schedule. That means I’m sitting at home right now, quietly, sort of except that Dave is on a call and I can hear it, but mostly mumbly.

Sam got glasses yesterday so we are now officially a family of four-eyes. He put the glasses on and the lady at the optometrist asked him to look around and test his new vision. They had a charming display of hilarious dish towels near our seat. I guess they are diversifying their income stream due to Corona, so now they sell glasses, and dishtowels. The towel nearest to Sam was an adorable giraffe happily munching his lunch and Sam, proud of his new supersight, read its caption aloud: I eat the shit out of plants. He mispronounced “shit” the first time he read it aloud but the raucous laughter from every adult nearby indicated that he had hit on some mystical humor nirvana. He not only read that towel aloud 10-15 more times, jubilantly, but also the nearby towels that I don’t remember other than that one included the ‘f-bomb’ and also Sam says “bitch” like “beach.”

I have recently subscribed to Minimum Viable Planet: “an undepressing newsletter about how to fight climate change.” When I first came across the newsletter I felt appreciation and a sense of relief. She’s written a better version of what I imagined I might write and in a way that I find pleasurable (even delightful) to read. So if you like my occasional notes, and you don’t like doom and gloom but you give a crap, check it out. 

I’M FAMOUS!!! I was quoted in a blog post that also quoted Rumi:

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field—meet me there. ~Rumi

One of my favorite blogs is the Born Free Newsletter (here’s the one I was in) written by my friend Gail. It is brief, and warm, and I love the gentle way it opens me to thinking and being in the world.

I turned 45. I had a countdown, a very scaled-back version of my 40-til-40 that I blogged about way back at the beginning of the Jenaissance. It was a great countdown and actually a great birthday. I bought myself a new hoody sweatshirt and a new toothbrush. I drank some whiskey and ate cheese and crackers. And I made chocolate soufflé. The sweatshirt I bought was a disaster (color, fabric, sleeve ends with no elastic (?)), so Dave chose another one for me. Considering that he bought the original magenta hoody, his purchasing sweatshirt 2.0 felt appropriate and yes, I am currently wearing it. That’s why I’m still wearing my sticker.

Today is also our 13th wedding anniversary. No I would not have guessed anything at all about what life would be like today 13 years ago when I wore that fancy white dress in that big southern church. Dave will probably not read this, but he will make me a second cup of celebratory coffee later and we will order takeout from my favorite Italian restaurant and — if I wanted — he’d let me pick all the entrees. He might tease me about my soft clothes, but he has let me be myself and given me space to figure out who that is. It’s been a pretty good gig so far.

I’ll close today with some climate haiku.

We can restore soil
to sequester more carbon
it feels possible

Try to eat less beef
pasture raised is much better
these are important

Composting’s not hard
maybe your city does it
helps microbes to live

Some people even
use composting toilets but
that’s a tall order

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