January 30, 2010

And on Fridays, we read poetry

A few years ago, when I was getting feedback from the students in my literature classes, they suggested that instead of studying poetry for a month at the end of the semester, that I spread it out over the semester. So I restructured my course, making every Friday poetry day. Fridays became a relaxed, informal day of class — we would talk about the poems I had assigned, of course, but students also often brought their own poems to read aloud and sometimes food. My students are not English majors — we don’t even have English majors at Small Green — and writing poetry is definitely a move out of the comfort zone for most of them.

This year, when I announced that Fridays would be poetry day, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s been two years since I taught the course because I was on sabbatical last year. My classes are limited to 20 students, but they are students from all different programs on campus — from wildlife biology to landscape architecture to chemistry to paper science engineering. I figured it would take a while for them to get to know each other and be brave enough to share poetry they’d written.

So yesterday, while we were talking before class about horror movies, Sharon Olds, and J.D. Salinger, I was pleasantly surprised when the student who had walked in wearing a fuzzy winter hat with animal ears on it said, “I brought a poem of mine to read.” Another student, a young woman who had shown me a sad break-up poem, said, “Hey, I’ll read my poem if you read yours.” A third student, a young woman who wearing bright colored leg warmers, said, “I like the idea of poetry buddies!” She looked across the room at a fourth student who had brought a poem. “I’ll read mine if you read yours.”

So we began class with four students reading their poems and a lively discussion about why we write poetry, and whether or not poetry can raise environmental awareness enough to get people to change their actions. It’s going to be a good semester.

January 28, 2010

Give us this day

Give us this day

It’s Statewide Exams Week for the high schools in Snowstorm Region. Classes are canceled so that high school kids can take these tests. Of course, most kids take their exams in June. The January ones are make-up exams. The week ought really be called Chance for High School Kids to Play Computer Games While Their Parents Are at Work Week. With-a-Why has had a relaxed week at home.

I suggested to him that since the rest of us are busy with work and classes, he ought to do all the housework this week. He gave me an incredulous look at this suggestion. Housework is not his strong point. The youngest child of the family, he’s very used to having a crowd of older siblings to do that sort of thing.

But he has been on a bread-making binge. He’s made a loaf of bread every day for the last couple of weeks. He can only make one loaf at a time because he uses a bread machine, and often the entire loaf is eaten within ten minutes of when he removes it from the machine. All my kids love homemade bread.

When I came home today, driving through strong winds that were swirling white grains of snow across the road, I walked into the scent of baking bread and the sound of piano music. I never get tired of that smell. The kitchen hadn’t been cleaned and the living area of the house looked as messy as it had the night before, but I felt content as I settled down on the couch with a cup of hot tea and watched my youngest son’s fingers flying across the keys.

January 26, 2010

Fingers still crossed

For the last couple of weeks, everyone in the family has been thinking about Aunt Calm and Uncle Restless. They live in Camera City, about 90 miles away from here. They used to host a big get-together every summer, an all-day party that included bocce, horseshoes, and large quantities of good food. Their daughter and son-in-law, who own a nearby bakery, always brought all kinds of goodies, including a special box of cream puffs just for my father.

Until 17 days ago, Uncle Restless was in good health, enjoying retirement with a host of activities and friends. Then he was hit with a sudden and severe headache. He was in such pain that Aunt Calm drove him to the hospital, where he was given morphine and a CAT scan. He was then transferred him to a bigger hospital where an MRI showed an abscess in his brain. Unfortunately, the abscess was in deep in the brain, not in place where it could easily be removed by surgery.

Because of the swelling, his thinking was very jumbled and confused. He didn’t know what had happened and didn’t always recognize people. His condition was clearly pretty serious. He was also very restless, trying to get out of the hospital bed all the time, but his daughter explained to the nurses, “Oh, he’s always like that. Even without an abscess.”

In what seems like both a crazy coincidence and a stroke of good luck, Uncle Restless and Aunt Calm have a son who is neurosurgeon. He and his wife flew up from the southern hospital where he works. Friends and family congregated to be supportive, and Baker Cousin set up an internet site so that we could all get updates. The doctors put Uncle Restless on antibiotics and as the infection cleared up, he began to return to his old self, although he was still in the hospital.

As friends and family have visited Uncle Restless, they’ve written entries on the website so that we could all get updates. Baker Cousin has written an update every night and Neurosurgeon Cousin has written several entries to explain to us all exactly what is going on. Friends, family and neighbors have been chiming in from afar with messages of love and support — and an endless stream of corny golf metaphors.

When my parents visited, they reported that Uncle Restless was in good spirits, joking like he always does. The antiobiotics had cleared up the infection. But then another MRI showed that the abscess was still present: a capsule of pus lodged deep in his brain.

Then the abscess leaked. Uncle Restless developed a severe headache and a fever. At some point, the doctors and the family decided that the danger of the fluid leaking into the brain was too high, and that the benefits of brain surgery would outweigh the risks.

So this afternoon, after 17 days of being in the hospital, Uncle Restless underwent the kind of tricky brain surgery that he’s heard his son talk about. A small hole was made in the front part of his skull and brain. Then a fiber optic catheter was advanced through the hole, along with suction and cutting tools, and the contents of the abscess removed.

His siblings drove in to join his wife and daughter at the hospital, and everyone else waited by computers and cell phones for updates. The good news is that the surgery seems to have been a success. Uncle Restless still has recovery and rehab ahead of him — and obviously, he’ll have to be monitored for complications — but for now, everyone is breathing a sigh of relief.

January 24, 2010

Another snake dream

In the dream, I was at Southern Monastery. I’d gone back for some kind of retreat, and I was downstairs in a room that had long tables and folding chairs, very much like a school cafeteria. A monk chopped up a snake and was cooking it in a pan. I knew I had to eat a piece of it. Eating the snake was somehow connected to meditation practices. I gagged on the bit of snake that someone spooned into my mouth, but ended up swallowing the piece whole. Then I sat up in the folding chair because I remembered that I was supposed to open my mouth and let a live snake slither down it. I kept telling myself, “I can do this. I did it last time I was here.” Someone in the room was holding a live snake: it was thin and graceful and kept wriggling around, making shapes in the air.

When I woke up, I thought to myself, “That’s the weirdest snake dream I’ve had yet.”

January 23, 2010


Little Biker Boy ran up and down the path, yelling into the wind. He made snowballs and threw them into the canal, shrieking as they bounced off the ice. He got down on all fours and pretended he was a coyote. He climbed up embankments and then slid down them. Then he came back to hold my hand as we walked along, his winter coat hanging open.

“What’s the bridge for?” he asked. I explained that it was an aqueduct, built to carry the canal over a stream.

We could hear the stream, rushing loudly through the old stone arches below the frozen canal, so we climbed down a path into the woods to see it up close. While Little Biker Boy poked around in the water, I took photos and tried to analyze the animal tracks I could see. A human and a dog had come this way. And a rabbit.

“Com’ere! Fast!” Little Biker Boy screamed. I could tell from his tone that he’d made some kind of discovery. On the edge of the stream, ice crystals had formed, thin cracked ice that formed delicate shapes.

“Aren’t they pretty?” he asked. “I found them.”

The sun felt almost hot as we walked back to the car, our winter coats unbuttoned. “That was fun,” Little Biker Boy said as he climbed into the backseat. His restless energy had dissipated and he talked calmly as we drove back home.

Follow the leader

January 21, 2010

Googling with age

It used to happen all the time. I’d be talking with a bunch of friends, and someone would say, “That old movie with the flying car. Who played the crazy uncle?” If no one knew the answer right away, we’d all try to retrieve the information from the dusty recesses of our brains.

“He wasn’t an uncle, he was a grandfather,” someone might volunteer.

“I can picture him,” someone else would say. “Crazy hair. He wore pajamas.”

We’d give up and talk about something else, and then someone would burst out, “Wait! It’s Lionel Jeffries.” We’d all nod, relieved to have figured it out.

These conversations have changed. Now when a friend says, “Who was the good-looking actor in that movie with the mailbox?” someone just says, “Google it!” and we let the computer do the thinking. Whether I’m at home or in the classroom, a laptop computer is always within reach. If I can’t think of something immediately, I just look it up.

While I’m looking things up on google, my parents are doing crossword puzzles every day. They’ve seen studies that suggest that activities that stimulate the brain with little bursts of activity can help stave off Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases associated with aging.

I wonder what our dependence on computers might mean for my generation — and everyone younger than us. By the time I’m in my late 70s, it may be too late for me to start doing crossword puzzles. I’ll be saying to my friends, “Who was that blogger who used to take naked photos of her conference roommates? I can’t seem to remember ….”

January 19, 2010

A little ice

When my kids were little, I went to the school picnics held in June. Sometimes I’d play games with the kids, and sometimes I’d sit in the shade and talk to the teachers and other parents who had volunteered to chaperone.

One time, I sat next to First Grade Teacher, a long-time teacher in the school. During the course of the day, I watched how she handled the kids who came up to her.

One little boy had fallen on the playground equipment and scraped his knee. “Here,” she said calmly, “Let me get you some ice.” His screaming stopped as soon as she put the ice in his hands.

Another little boy said that his stomach hurt. “Here,” she said calmly, “Let me get you some ice.”

A little girl complained that the other kids were being mean to her. “Here,” First Grade Teacher said calmly, “Let me get you some ice.”

It didn’t matter what the complaint was. The treatment was the same. First Grade Teacher would sit the child down on the bench, provide a handful of ice, and talk in a soothing voice.

This all-purpose treatment seemed to work. After a few minutes of sitting quietly, holding the ice, and listening to First Grade Teacher’s soothing voice, the child would jump up and run off happily.

“Is the ice magic?” I asked teasingly, after the fifth handful of ice had calmed down yet another small child.

“Yep,” First Grade Teacher said. “And luckily, it’s cheap.”

She cast a watchful eye on the kids climbing about on the playground. “Most of the time, they aren’t hurt. They just need a little attention.”

I think First Grade Teacher retired a few years back, but I think of her every time I get an icepack out of the freezer and hand it to one of the little neighbor kids.

January 18, 2010

Any port

I had just finished eating dinner with some friends at a café in Snowstorm City when I noticed I had a missed cell phone call from my parents. Normally, I would have waited to return the call, but I was expecting news about Uncle Restless, who had been rushed to the hospital in Camera City with an excruciating headache.

I looked around the room to see where I could make a phone call. On an icy winter night going outside didn’t seem like a great option. No way could I handle a tiny cell phone while wearing mittens. I can barely manage it when I’ve got the use of all my fingers.

I walked over to the women’s bathroom, but another woman was waiting in line to go in. Lyrical Cook noticed my dilemma and motioned to me. “Go in the men’s room,” she said. “There aren’t any men in here tonight.”

I looked around the small café. She was right. No men in sight. Quickly, I slipped into the men’s room and called my parents.

My father told me that Uncle Restless has an abscess in his brain, and that’s been causing him intense pain and confusion. Unfortunately, the lesion is deep in the brain, not a place where a surgeon could operate easily. Hopefully, a long course of antibiotics will shrink the absess. It looks like he’s going to be in the hospital for several weeks, but everyone is hopeful that he’ll recover fully.

Once he’d given me the news, my father asked, “Where are you?”

The little room was very clean and bare, and I suspect my voice was echoing off the tiles, the mirror, the porcelain fixtures. The situation suddenly struck me as a bit odd: my father is 79 and while he’s pretty up-to-date on many things, including the use of computers and cell phones, he can be pretty rigid about such conventions as which gender uses which restroom.

“I’m at a café,” I answered. “In the men’s bathroom.”

My father had given me the news about his brother-in-law quite calmly, but now his voice was filled with horror. “The men’s bathroom?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Want me to take a photo?”

January 17, 2010

Sunday afternoon

“I’ve got some chips and guacamole,” Beautiful Hair said when she picked me up.

“I’ve got a stash of emergency chocolate,” I said, pulling out the bars that a friend had given me last week at a poetry reading.

We drove through the winter afternoon to Town by the Lake, passed houses with long icicles that were dripping in the sun, and came at last to a little old house at the end of a narrow road. We came in through the kitchen, shaking off our wet boots. Gorgeous Eyes was at the stove, making some kind of dish that involved tomatoes, onions, chickpeas, and a whole lot of spices. She put down the spatula to give us hugs and shift the tea kettle onto a burner.

I rummaged through her cupboard to find ginger tea and settled lazily down at the kitchen table, much like I do at my mother’s house. Georgeous Eyes was baking cakes, too, and setting them out on the big table in her dining room to cool. In the next room, logs glowed red in the fireplace, occasionally spitting up little flames.

Beautiful Hair took the chair next to me. We talked and ate and drank hot tea, while outside, the afternoon turned to dusk. A yellow Tibetan prayer flag in the backyard flapped above the melting snow. When we were filled with food, we moved to the comfortable furniture in front of the fire, where we kept talking until the window panes were dark enough to become mirrors.

January 15, 2010


When the two little neighbor kids came over yesterday, I warned them that someone was coming to fix our furnace.

“I’m going to call you Mom when the furnace guy is here,” Little Biker Boy said, “Don’t laugh and don’t say you’re not.”

It’s a game the two kids play all the time. “Let’s pretend you’re our Mom.”

I had actually intended to send them home when the furnace guy arrived — they can be very difficult kids — but it seemed important to Little Biker Boy that they stay. “We’ll be good,” he promised.

“Okay, you two need to play quietly in the living room while I’m talking to the furnace guy,” I said. I dragged the Tupperware container of lego blocks out from under the orange tree and dumped it onto the floor for Ponytail. I gave them each a couple of cookies.

“I’m going to sit on the stairs and play with my cars,” said Little Biker Boy, “Like a normal kid.”

When Furnace Guy arrived, Ponytail abandoned the lego blocks to come and cling to my legs, jumping up and down and screaming, “She’s my Mommy!” Subtlety is not her forte.

Shaggy Hair Boy came to my rescue and took Ponytail into the living room to play with the lego blocks while I talked to Furnace Guy.

But Little Biker Boy sat quietly on the stairs right next to me, intently playing with his cars. It’s the longest I’ve ever seen him sit still. A couple times before Furnace Guy descended into the basement, he called out to me. “Mom, can you get me a glass of milk? Mom, can I have another cookie?” But he did it politely.

After Furnace Guy finished repairing the furnace, he and I stood talking in the foyer. We talked about the furnace, the weather, and the holidays that had just gone by. Furnace Guy, like me, grew up in this area so we compared notes about places we’d gone to when we were younger.

“You remember the old store on the main street of Train Track Village? The one run by those very old people?” he asked. I remembered it well. We bought jeans there, stiff and unshrunk, and the old lady would follow us out yelling, “Do you need any socks? Any underwear?”

During the conversation, I was aware of Little Biker Boy sitting on the carpeted stairs behind me. He was playing quietly, much like any of my own sons would have at that age. He was half-hidden by the railing, but I could feel him watching me, aware that he was part of the scene.

After Furnace Guy left, I gave Little Biker Boy a hug, “You behaved really well.”

“I told you I would,” he said. "Can we stay and play a little longer?"

January 14, 2010


At the end of fall semester, I hurt my right arm. I was carrying a bunch of stuff, including a bag filled with 60 student portfolios, and I twisted my arm in a weird way. I shrugged off the injury, figuring the arm would heal on its own. But when it was still hurting a few weeks later, I went to the doctor’s office to make sure the pain was muscular and not something more serious.

Our family doctor is about my age, a local like me, and we’ve known each other for years. We talked about my kids and his, while he poked and prodded my arm, asking, “Does this hurt? How about this?” On this visit, I had all my clothes on, which of course was unusual. It was nice to be able to chat fully dressed for a change, even if he was yanking and twisting my arm the whole time.

Finally, he said, “Yeah, I think it’s the muscle. It’ll heal.”

“Why is it taking so long?”

"When does it hurt?”

I stopped to think. “When I carry logs in for the fireplace, when I shovel snow, when I carry a box of books, when I move a stockpot of soup from the stove to the counter, when I move the cat litterboxes to sweep underneath, when I —”

“You haven’t rested it AT ALL,” he said. “Stop doing all those things.”

So I’ve been trying not to lift anything with my right arm. Instead, I yell for one of my teenagers or my husband if he’s home. It drives me nuts to keep asking for help; I am very much the kind of person who just prefers to do stuff myself.

Shaggy Hair Boy is the most obliging of my sons, and he’s been a great help, but he cannot resist a double entendre. “What’s that? You need some wood?”

I’ll be happy when my arm heals, and I can carry the firewood in myself.

January 12, 2010

Three notes at a time

In preparation for my very first piano lesson, With-a-Why and Shaggy Hair Boy began teaching me a few things on the piano. With-a-Why started with the basics, “Okay, this is middle C," but pretty soon he was giving me directions that were already too difficult for me: "Okay, now try playing the C scale with both hands."

Over break, I did learn to play a few simple songs from on old piano book that With-a-Why used when he was about seven years old. None of the songs have more than three notes in them, which is just about what I can handle right now.

One evening Boy in Black walked over with his guitar and started accompanying me. It actually sounded pretty good. “See, we’re jamming,” he said with a grin.

Another time Shaggy Hair Boy sat next to me on the bench and started playing along with me. The simple notes sounded much better when he played along. He showed me some of the chords.

“Do you think I can learn to play the piano?” I asked him. It was a real question. After all, I’m 48 and I’ve never played a musical instrument. I’ve never even been able to carry a tune.

He gave me an exasperated look. “You are learning to play the piano. Right now.”

Oh, right.

Chapel in winter

Chapel in winter

January 11, 2010

Top of the world

On our winter retreat at the monastery, my friends and I stayed in the Women’s Guesthouse at the top of a hill, the highest spot for miles. Lovely British Accent, the guest mistress, welcomed us with hugs as we came in, stomping the snow off our boots and carrying bags of clothes and books. Inside the guesthouse, an old stone fireplace made the living room cozy, and the covered porch that serves as a dining room was warm from afternoon sun that poured in the windows.

Upstairs, we each got our own room. My room had a low ceiling, a bed with a pink bedspread, an old wooden desk, and a window that overlooked the pine woods. I keep a special journal just for retreats, and the first thing I did after arriving was to sit down and read through the journal. It’s in two volumes now, since this was my 30th visit to the monastery. By reading through the journal, I could see patterns in my life: ways in which I’ve changed and ways in which (sadly) I haven’t.

While we still had some afternoon light, I pulled on warm winter clothes, walked downstairs through the kitchen where Lovely British Accent was making soup, and went out into the cold. Outside the cosy farmhouse, the world was windswept and desolate. The fields and the road glittered: the snow was sparkling with ice crystals the way it does in very cold weather. When the sun shone, all was white and blue, with some gold edging from the dried grasses. I looked across the field, a horizon that held nothing but sky, and felt like I was at the top of the world.

At the top of the world

January 08, 2010

To the sheep farm

After the busyness of the holidays — which involves cooking, cleaning, and having all of our kids home — a few friends and I decided we deserved a break. So this morning, I’m tossing some clothes into a bag, and we’re headed to the monastery for the weekend. I’m looking forward to the sheep, the monks, and the quiet.

January 07, 2010

Off to work

Off to work

Just to clarify, that's my husband going off to work. A twitter friend told me to just "hang out the window and take a photo of the snow," so that's what I did. Next week, I too am going to have to get up, get dressed, and scrape off my car instead of working in my sweatpants by the fire. Winter break is almost over.

January 06, 2010

Po la`i e, po kamaha`o

Urban Sophisticate Sister sent an email to the family and sent a link out on twitter. A friend linked to the news article on facebook. My mother called me on the phone. The news traveled quickly. Stone Church Elementary School in Traintrack Village, the little neighborhood school that I attended from kindergarten through eighth grade, the school that educated my four kids, will be closing this June.

The news wasn’t a surprise. We’ve seen the closure coming. But I still felt nostalgic when I heard the news. I have warm memories of the childhood years I spent in the brick building, in those classrooms with their linoleum floors and big glass windows.

The Franciscan Sisters were an early influence in turning me into a feminist. That seems ironic now, but I didn’t know as a child much about Catholic dogma — I didn’t know or care what speeches the pope made or what rules got handed down by the male hierarchy. What I saw in front of me were wonderful role models: a group of women who shared a communal life, who had careers teaching, who didn’t seem to need husbands, and who pursued interests in music and science and books. They were strong women, outspoken and smart and fun, living outside the norms of the 1960s.

Sister Dancing Marie would push all the desks out of the way and teach us to dance. Sister Aloha would interrupt lessons in science and art to tell us stories about Hawaii. I don’t know why so many of the nuns were from Hawaii, some kind of arrangement in the order, I guess. I can still sing Silent Night in Hawaiian (that is, I know the words, even if I can’t carry a tune), and I suspect my spiritual beliefs were influenced by these women who mixed native Hawaiian traditions with what they knew of Christianity.

I was a painfully shy child when I entered kindergarten in 1966, and I loved the quiet rooms of that sunny brick building. That’s where I met lifelong friends, where I had my first crush, where I fell in love with teaching and writing, where I learned to have confidence in myself. By the time I graduated in eighth grade, I had shed my shyness forever.

The era of neighborhood schools like Stone Church Elementary is over. The schools had their problems as well as their strengths, and I don’t think we will see them return. But I’m grateful for all that I learned inside those brick walls, and the wonderful women who taught me there.



January 04, 2010

The writing life

The last few weeks, I've been busy with holiday gatherings. And next week, I’ll be busy planning my spring courses, getting ready for the start of the semester. But this week, I’m working on my book.

What's wonderful is that my daughter is still home for another week. And she just happens to be a terrific editor.

This morning while my husband was at work, With-a-Why was at school, and the boys were still sleeping, I built a fire. My daughter and I settled down on the couch, with my laptop computer and a printed out copy of the manuscript, each chapter in its own manila folder. We’ve got a method: she reads each chapter, then we talk about it, and then I begin re-organizing that chapter, cutting out parts and adding new bits, while she starts reading the next. In between chapters, we drink cups of hot tea and devour squares of organic dark chocolate.

When we were both working, the house was so quiet that I could hear the fire crackling and the winter wind blowing through the chimes outside the window. We were sitting with our feet up on the couch, facing each other, sharing a red blanket that covered our legs. When I got up to put another log on the fire, my daughter said, “Hey, so long as you’re up, can you get me another cup of tea?”

“Sure,” I walked into the kitchen area to turn the burner on under the kettle.

“And can you get me a pen?” she asked. “There’s something wrong with this one.”

“Anything else you need?” I asked teasingly. “Am I your secretary now?”

“No, I’m your editor,” she said without hesitation. “Editors have bitches. Writers don’t.”

January 03, 2010


Back in the day, when I was young and foolish, I used to make resolutions every New Year’s Eve. I’d give up swearing or eating refined sugar or losing my temper. But I lived in a house full of kids and cats, so that kind of resolution was patently ridiculous. I’d break every resolution within the first week.

By the time I was forty, I had decided to accept my vices as part of my charming personality. My stubbornness is “persistence.” The way I scream when a cat pees on the carpet is “colorful language.” It’s all about marketing. It’s also the privilege of getting older: once you’re past forty, people will just shrug and say, “Oh, that’s how she is.”

So instead of resolutions, I try to find something new to learn each year. I figure that focusing on learning something new will keep me out of trouble. That’s the logic of kindergarten teachers everywhere, and I figure what works for five-year-olds can work for me.

Since all the cool bloggers are doing decade-long retrospectives, I figured I’d look back ten years to see what new things I’ve learned. They include:

Becoming vegan.
Learning reiki.
Learning to downhill ski.
Learning to belly dance.
Starting a blog.
A two-week white water rafting trip.
Learning to snowboard.
Taking a photograph every day for a year.
Learning to play Ultimate.
Practicing meditation.

I’m not particularly good at most of these things – in fact, I’m only adequate at some of them – but that’s not the point. Learning as an adult is harder than learning as child, but that’s what makes it more valuable. My parents have been good role models for this kind of thing. My father took up the clarinet when he was in his early fifties, and taught himself the saxophone when he was 55. Both were in their 70s when they first used a computer and just last year, they learned how to use a cell phone. Their willingness to learn new things is one of the things that has kept them close to their grandchildren (that, and the fact that my mother is a terrific cook who often invites them over for delicious meals.)

During the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about what I want to learn this coming year. “Do you think I could learn to play the piano?” I asked my kids. All four play, and they’re all clearly talented. “Do you think I’d be any good at it?”

Boy in Black looked up from his laptop computer. “It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re good at it, so long as you enjoy it.”

He’s right, of course. So that’s my plan for 2010: I’m going to learn how to play the piano.



January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

When I was a little kid, I can remember how elegant my parents and their friends would look on New Year’s Eve, with the men in suits and the women wearing sparkly evening gowns. My kids’ generation is a bit more informal: most of their friends arrived here yesterday wearing pajama pants. Our midnight celebration was fairly casual as well: we were all milling about the kitchen area, piling food onto our plates when Butters looked at his cell phone and said, “Hey, according to my phone, it’s 2010.”

Boy in Black is so nocturnal that midnight seemed early to him. He suggested that we pick a place where midnight falls at about 6 am EST and celebrate THAT new year so that at least staying up would be at challenge. It seems like the younger group all took that challenge to heart because when I woke up early this morning (out of habit), the gang was still gathered in the living room, playing card games, wide awake.

This afternoon, when everyone was napping, I sneaked out to the house of my friend Makes Bread for her annual New Year’s Day gathering. It felt good to be amongst friends, eating hot soup and cookies on this blustery cold day, everyone talking about their hopes for the coming year.

Let it snow

Let it snow