SoCS: birthday week

My birthday was this week. I am also away from home. I received cards from my daughters and granddaughter and a card and flowers from my sisters before I left, but the only card I have with me here is a handmade one that my spouse B slipped into my luggage and that I have kept on my bedstand, just to the right of my bed. Even though I am in a double bed by myself, I sleep on the right side as I do at home. Here, I use the extra pillows on the bed to lay on the left side of the bed, where, at home, B would be sleeping. It makes me feel cozier.

Back at home, my birthday cards are on the mantle, along with other cards dating back to our last set of household events in June, B and my wedding anniversary and the birthdays of daughter T and granddaughter ABC, who today is 16 months old. That four month old cards are still on the mantle is a testament to how roller-coaster, topsy-turvy things have been for us.

That is a story that needs to wait for a non-stream of consciousness post.

Someday.

Perhaps soon, but, if past is prologue, most likely later…

[Update from a few minutes later: As I was sharing this post on social media, I wrote this: “I used to have a set of Ziggy cards that said, ‘At last, a note from me. Hope you still remember who I am.’ Or words to that effect. That is how I feel.” As it is stream of consciousness and relates to cards, I thought I’d tack it here, too.]
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “card.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2018/10/05/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-oct-6-18/

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birthday sandwich

I did a One-Liner Wednesday post (with adorable picture) for ABC’s first birthday.

The next day, ABC and her mom, our daughter E, left London, where they had spent eleven weeks visiting dad/spouse L, his parents, sister, and extended family, to return to our home in upstate New York.

The following day was daughter T’s birthday which we celebrated at one of our favorite local restaurants. ABC charmed the staff and other patrons as we celebrated both birthdays.

ABC managed not to have a problem with the five hours’ worth of jet lag, although the trip was much more taxing on E.

We are settling back into being a household of five. T and B had taken charge of childproofing prior to ABC’s arrival and we have managed to avoid any major catastrophes so far.

One of the things that happened while E and ABC were in the UK was the move of my mom, known here as Nana, to Mercy House, a nearby hospice residence. Everyone loves ABC’s visits as she toddles down the hallways and around the common area and in and out of Nana’s room. She brings smiles to everyone and has made some new friends.

One of her new friends is a resident. He is only twelve years old. His presence here reminds all of us to treasure each day that we are given, that youth is not a guarantee of good health, and that the presence of family and friends and care of staff and volunteers can bring peace even in the most difficult circumstances.

 

One-Liner Wednesday: First Birthday!

Ada first birthday
Happy First Birthday to my granddaughter, known here on my blog as ABC!
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Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday! Find out how here:
https://lindaghill.com/2018/06/06/one-liner-wednesday-bird-dog/

SoCS: October

October is one of my favorite months.

Part of the reason is that I was born in October. My birthday is the fourth, which also happens to be the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, who has become increasingly important to me spiritually over the years.

Growing up In New England, I always appreciated the beauty of October. It is the month when the leaves turn colors. Because our forests are mixed, there are red, orange, yellow, and russet leaves, punctuated with the deep greens of evergreens. I am lucky to still live in the Northeastern United States so our autumn foliage is still similar.

The last two Octobers I have  been back in my home area for early October with the Boiler House Poets in residency at MASS MoCA. Being back at that time of year is even more special as it has coincided with the annual Fall Foliage Festival. I have even written a poem about it.

Of course, October ends with Halloween. I admit that it is not one of my favorite holidays, but October 31st is special for another reason. It is my elder sister’s birthday and so another reason to celebrate the crisp, beautiful month of October.
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The prompt this week was a word beginning with “oc.” Join us for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday and/or Just Jot It January! Find out more here:
https://lindaghill.com/2018/01/19/the-friday-reminder-for-socs-jusjojan-daily-prompt-jan-20th-2018/

MoCA birthday

Today was the last full day of our Boiler House Poets second reunion residency at MASS MoCA.  We packed it as full as we possibly could with poetry and camaraderie, knowing we will have to scatter to the winds tomorrow.

And it was my birthday.

Some highlights:
* I wandered the grounds before the museum opened this morning. The Boiler House gate was open and the sound installation was operating; I got to experience it alone, walking all the way up to the top where I could look out over North Adams and MoCA, including all the solar panels. Alone – except for the pigeons who roost in the Boiler House, several of whom I startled into flight as I wandered.

* I did a walking meditation in the John Cage/Merce Cunningham Bridge with its current sound installation, In Harmonicity, the Tonal Walkway, by Julianne Swartz. For the second time this week, the art has brought me back to my first semester of music theory at Smith, as the installation is a form of musique concrète. The 13:40 minute loop is composed entirely of recorded human voices. This work inspired Marilyn McCabe, the Boiler House poet who conceived and produced our collaborative videopoem last year, to envision a sound project this year. We each recorded a short segment based on a single word for her today. Stay tuned for the final product when it is available.

*There have been so many lovely birthday wishes and supportive comments today. Life has been so complicated over these last months that there were times today that I felt overwhelmed. I would not have made it through without the support of my poet-friends here and the well-wishes that arrived today from family and friends. Thank you all so much.

*And our reading! Ever since the lead-up to the inaugural Tupelo residency that brought the Boiler House Poets together two years ago, I have wanted to do a public reading in North Adams. Because this is my home area and I have written quite a few poems about it (and just this week have organized the poems into the first draft of a manuscript), it felt like the right place to share some of those works. I also wanted to offer people here the chance to hear the work of the Boiler House Poets, each of whom is dedicated to her craft and to sharing her unique voice.

We presented our reading at Makers’ Mill, the art-space where we had taken our printmaking class over the weekend. Kate Carr, the former director of Makers’ Mill, graciously served as our organizer and accepted our invitation to read with us, as she is a poet as well as a visual artist. We were pleased that we had a receptive and attentive audience in attendance and that we had to quickly set up more chairs from the supply closet to accommodate everyone!

It especially warmed my heart to have my friends and family in attendance. Cousin S was there and my high school friend who hosted me for Sunday dinner. I was excited and amazed that a woman that I worked with over summers when I was in college came with her husband. I had not seen her since 1981. We have kept in touch with Christmas cards and notes over the years, but, because we aren’t connected over social media and neither of us are the type to send photographs, we didn’t have a visual reference for our middle-aged selves; still, I recognized her within seconds. I was deeply grateful to have four people there who are part of the community at large and was pleased that they liked my poems.

Poets are sometimes accused of writing predominantly for other poets. I don’t think that it is true of most poets, but I am sure that it is not true for me. I think of myself as a community poet and I think that most of my poems are not intimidating for general readers. Most people in the United States didn’t have much exposure to poetry in school, or, worse, came away with the feeling that they couldn’t possibly understand it because they didn’t arrive at the same interpretation as their textbook.  I don’t want anyone to be afraid of poetry! I loved that our reading had a range of kinds of poetry that could be experienced on many levels. I know there were people in the room who could name the poetic devices being employed and appreciate the choice of particular words and sounds and knew the poetic forebearers of the style, etc. and there were people who just knew how each poem made them feel about gardens or good-byes or mocha sundaes. And it’s all good.

*After the reading, we poets stayed up talking and eating. I stopped into The Hub and got a mocha sundae to go as my birthday treat. Not as good as the old Apothecary Hall mocha days, but acceptable.

And, yes, the poem about mochas was one of mine.

MA Birthday

Today was another full-to-overflowing day of our reunion residency at MASS MoCA with a special feature for me. October fourth is my birthday.

I was up before six, thankfully after a decent night’s sleep, and opened three cards from my family that had found their way into my suitcase. I went over to my studio early and worked on some revisions, taking a break to attend 8:00 Mass.

October 4 is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, whom I admire for his advocacy for peace and his respect for and joy in all of creation. It was so meaningful the night that Cardinal Bergoglio appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s, asked for the blessing of the people gathered, and took the name Francis. The homily today talked about how Francis blended contemplative and active service, which is a practice that I strive to emulate, albeit not as well as I wish. I so appreciate present day Franciscans, such as Richard Rohr and Ilia Delio, who continue to teach the connectedness and unity of all creation in Love.

Catholicism has come up surprisingly often during our residency, but I feel I have not done a very good job at explaining myself as a progressive Catholic who sees herself increasingly through an interspiritual lens. Though brought up within the tradition and the rules of the church, I take seriously the primacy of individual conscience and my own responsibilities as a mature Christian, one of the foremost being that it is not my place to judge the beliefs of another person. One of the things I appreciate about Pope Francis is that he makes clear that he excludes no person of good will, whatever spiritual/philosophical path they follow, whether they believe in a god or gods or not. I think of God as Love, as a connection each being has with other beings and all of creation. I continue within the Catholic tradition myself, despite its many flaws, because it is where I learned about the sacramentality of life and relationship, but I honor whatever religious or philosophical path enlightens each person I meet.

(It’s late at night. Can you tell? Back to the story of my birthday…)

After Mass, I walked the grounds at MASS MoCA while talking to Nana on the phone, then went back to my studio to work. I finished the first draft of the Fall Foliage Parade poem, reworked the Boiler House poem, typed in and lightly revised a poem I had sketched from one of the new exhibits, and began a new poem before lunch, which was brought in from Brewhaha because the cafe is closed on Tuesdays, along with the rest of MASS MoCA, which is sad because I would have loved to spend some more time with the new exhibits today. Having lunch from Brewhaha is never sad, though; I had an excellent salmon burger.

Six of the eight of us took an afternoon field trip to Williamstown to visit the Clark Art Institute. There is an special exhibition from the Prado, but I most appreciated re-visiting some of the works that I remember seeing on prior visits. I was especially drawn to the Renoir paintings today, although I made a point of visiting the Degas “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” sculpture that reminds me of daughter T.

We met in the apartment across the hall for dinner together and my friends surprised me with cake and ice cream, a rendition of “Happy Birthday”, a beautiful many-pointed star ornament, and a card with little notes from each of them. Of course, we turned our attention back to poetry and did some more workshopping and reading, but the group indulged me by listening to me read some of the poems from my manuscript in development. I really wanted to be able to read some of them in North Adams because they originate here, but confess to being a bit anxious about it. I don’t think I even looked up at all when I was reading. I was concerned that my poems would be too simple because my fellow Boiler House Poets craft such exquisite poetry; fortunately, the response was very positive. There was even some interest in reading the whole manuscript when I get it assembled, which will be a huge help. I know any feedback I get will help make the collection as strong as possible before I send it off to potential publishers.

So, it has been a good birthday. Maybe by next year at this time, I will be submitting my manuscript – and waiting…

Happy Birthday, Harry!

Today is Harry Potter’s 36th birthday. Happy birthday to his creator, Joanne Rowling, whose birthday is also today!

Today is also the release date for the script of a new play about the grown-up Harry and his family, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The premiere performance was last night. There were midnight launch parties in bookstores and other trappings of Harry Potter book launches, not seen since the publication of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows ten years ago.

And it is happening without me.

I do still love Harry Potter and will probably read the script at some point, but the urgency is absent now.

When our daughters E and T were younger and both still living at home, Harry Potter book releases were major events, which began marathon family read-alouds. The books and the connections they engendered were woven into the fabric of our lives. You can read more about why and how in this post.

I have been enjoying the continued unfolding of the world of Harry Potter. Through Pottermore, I know that I am in Ravenclaw at Hogwarts and in Pukwudgie at Ilvermorny, located atop Mount Greylock in Massachusetts, not far from where I grew up. I am looking forward to seeing the new film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, when it comes out in November. Someday, I hope to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida or go on a studio tour in London.

Meanwhile, today will unfold like a normal summer Sunday…