Monday, April 26, 2010

Puddles of Blossoms, Revised

On a whim I submitted a variation of this post to Segullah and they'd like to put it up in the next few weeks(!). I'll let you know when. Thanks for all of your sweet, wise comments.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Giant Thanks to Fritzi Marie

When I lived in Mississippi, I wasn't very nice. I mean, I was, but I wasn't all that friendly. I wasn't a good friend, is what I mean. The depression was raging, and I was afraid of everything. We've discussed this. You've heard this story. It's boring.

Anyway, the point this time is that there was this poet in my program, Dan, who was(is) married to a lovely woman named Kat. Kat, my friends, was(is) just brimming with good taste. They invited me over for dinner once, and I couldn't stop squealing over all the delightful, beautiful things she had in their house. I mean, even her salad servers were stunning and unique. Were they carved wood trees? Or carved wood people? I can't remember, but I think about them often when I serve salad.

Anyway, point is, I stumbled on her blog awhile back, and it's now one I check obsessively. She always has something lovely to say and something lovely to look at. Her world is full of treasures and wishes. And that's a world I want to live in. For a long time, I didn't admit I read because I wasn't good at being friends when I knew Kat, and I felt bad. But when I finally fessed up to reading, Kat said we were friends! And she was nice! And I was so very glad.

This week, dear Kat sent me a package. Just because she's nice, and because she believes in sending pretty mail, and because I said I was looking for a tea set. Look how lovely this is:

[teacup, gorgeous card, and a little wish notebook]

[this is precisely what i had in mind when i imagined a pretty teacup.]

[wish book, unwrapped.]

So you see, I had to take pictures and say a giant thanks to Kat. It made my week. Check out Kat's blog, Fritzi Marie. She makes such a lovely world over there. And being friends with Kat makes my world lovelier, too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Boston Marathon

[pretty day for running]

Sam and I had today off work/teaching for Patriot's Day, a handy MA holiday that coincides with the Boston marathon. We decided to take the train and see a movie, and when we reached the train stop, low and behold, runners. Runners and runners and more runners, and a crowd lining the streets cheering them on. For some reason, I found this incredibly moving. I thought I would weep, right there. So many people doing this really hard thing, so many other people there to say bravo. It was just beautiful. I took my camara, so you could see:

[church, runners]

[can you see how many there are? crossing the street was like playing frogger.]

[sam + book (he wasn't feeling picture-y)]

[a few blocks from our place, 2 miles from the finish line]

[train coming]

[dapper, no?]

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To Be Honest

On Monday I visited a college campus to meet with a professor. I observed a class he was teaching, and as I watched, I wondered if I missed it. The teaching, I mean.

I did, some. I missed the students coming in and I missed standing in front of the room. I missed seeing the looks on their faces when I made them laugh or when they "got it." Still, I suspected I was glad to sit where I was sitting, watching it happen as a third party. I thought: Maybe I just love teaching and learning; everything about it is fascinating to me, so it's nice that I'm still involved in some capacity. Or maybe I really miss it, I thought.

Then, near the end of the class, the professor asked a student a question about a poem. Her response: "I don't like poetry. I don't really care for poetry, to be honest." This was, of course, a complete non sequitur. She was telling him something about herself, rather than the poem, as he'd asked.

And I thought: Yes, I'm in right seat for me. Oh, how lovely to not have to hear someone I'm invested in say that almost every day. And they did. Say that all the time. I'm glad from my office I can't hear them, bless their hearts.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tea Time

I'm still not eating treats, and the world is a better place for it. Treats and I don't get along: I love them; they hate me.

And so, I drink tea. This makes me feel like something special happens, which is all I'm really looking for when I have a treat.

On Saturday we watched "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" (which we LOVED), and I decided to amp up the specialness by cleaning out a decorative teapot and using a pretty cup. One of Sam's students gave him a set of these cups as a gift for writing a letter of recommendation (nice kid, no?). While I like them, I decided I need/want a really fancy teacup. Maybe I'll hit up the thrift store?

[cat, teapot]

[teapot, husband]
[i like this one because he looks like he's pontificating. i think he was telling the cats not to fight.]

[girl, tea, a quiet world]

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I Forgot

Yesterday was my sister Amara's birthday, and all day I remembered and reminded myself to call her, call her, call her. And still ... I forgot. I'm a failure at life.

So happy (late) birthday, Ammie!

In the middle of the night, when I remembered my failure, I was thinking about Amara. She's twelve years older than I (right?), the oldest of the six kids in our family, and it's been really something to watch how those twelve years have seemed to shrink and shrink. When I was 8/9, she was in college, see, and so I didn't really get to know her well until we became grownups (whatever that means), and Amara has really taught me what it means to be a grownup. Or no, that's not it. Teaching me how to be a grownup sounds like she's boring, and she's far from boring. Really what she's taught me, what she continues to teach me, is how to be a woman (can I say that?), a woman who gracefully does what she loves and takes care of those she loves with more energy and imagination and beauty than I can fathom. It's astonishing, really, endlessly astonishing what she accomplishes.

Indulge me for just another few paragraphs. I have two specific memories of growing up as Amara's sister: I was in charge of vacuuming the downstairs, and I remember the carpet was a very dark green, and I remember having this big epiphany (I was young--7? 8? 10?): I didn't have to vacuum. In fact, no one could make me do anything, ever! Everything I did was something I had to, ultimately, choose to do! Wow, this was heady. I'm not quite smart enough to know what world philosophy this nods to (existentialism is my best guess), but for me, next to the vacuum, my toes in that dark green carpet, it was huge. And I decided to test it out then and there by flat-out refusing my task. Eventually, after shouting with my mother (I was a charming child), Amara was sent down to be the enforcer, which, well, she was effective at. I made the mistake, see, of explaining what I had realized. And as philosophically fascinating as it was to me, it wasn't so to Amara. She, dear sister, illustrated the falseness of it by physically holding my hands to the vacuum neck and steering the two of us all around that downstairs. It was an awkward dance, but that floor got clean. And I learned that sometimes, we have to do stuff. And I've long marveled at the gentle yet unmistakably firm way Amara illustrated the fallacy.

Memory two (and I'm afraid these both have the potential to appear unflattering, but they shouldn't be ...): Amara majored in Marine Biology at BYU, and one summer she came home to visit and we all went to the beach. La Jolla Cove. We were all playing in the tidepools, when Amara dared me to lick a sea anemone--you know, those creatures with all the soft pretty arms that attach to corners of pools and tighten up into a pin cushion when you touch them? I, being wise, refused the dare. But then she told me there was a club at BYU, one full of people who had licked sea anemones, and that when she got back to school she would submit my name and I'd be a member of this club. Well, that I couldn't refuse. I was already a royal nerd, and the thought of being part of a club at BYU before I even went was just thrilling. I mean,I think I literally thought this would look good on my application. And so, after a lengthy discussion over logistics and once we had scouted out a handsome anemone for a kiss, I lay down on my belly, little girl swim suit catching on the rock, and did it. And wow, it hurt. And wow, my tongue was numb for hours and hours. And, sadly, there was never any club.

One more, to balance out the potential unflatteringness: A few weeks ago, Amara called me while I was at work. She wanted to read me something out of an Ensign article she had read that morning because it had helped her and she thought it would help me. I closed the door to my office, stood behind my desk, and felt my eyes well up at what she read. It was precisely what I needed. We talked about the quote for awhile, talked about our lives, laughed and groaned and understood precisely. Because we're sisters. And sisters get it.

She was my sister. She is my sister. And one of dearest friends.

I hope you had a lovely day, Am. You deserve it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Expect More Pictures

New camera in the house, yo. I'm slightly obsessed.

(The kitties were patient models.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ah! Bright Wings.

(title comes from Hopkins' poem "God's Grandeur")

Morning walk, things I loved:

*elegant New England houses
*remembering what a "pediment" was on said houses
*passing through the smell of fabric softener coming from silver vents
*mossy tree trunks and mossy stone walls (a minor but lovely side effect of the flooding rains)
*few (but gorgeous) blossoms on the trees; millions of tiny green buds that promise blossoms
*sitting on a bench to pray, feeling the world reduce down to my prayer, birdsong, and a breeze that seemed to split at my nose and travel deliberately over both my ears, like a whisper