dancing_crow: (crow)

delivered Alice yesterday - ten whole miles away and a whole new chapter.

Aerin took Eileen, and her stuff, and made it to their room before we did

Alice is on the same side of Dickinson, down a floor, in the other wing - it was a tiny bit surreal delivering her and trying to do it the way they'd had us do it for Aerin and having it not work. But that was ok too, in the long run. I didn't stash tiny dinosaurs in Alice's boxes because she had pre-stashed tiny stuffies and friends - travelling Puppy, and the Purple Panda cathy made for her, and the ladybug and she also had three huge stuffies - the Panda, the Mammoth and Emma's squishy white hover bear. Alice shows so little of what is in her head. Aerin doesn't either, but they do it in different ways. Alice seemed fine, Eileen seemed fine - both a little nervous, both cheerful, both getting stuff out and away and making a cement block room into a space they can do the things that will support life.

Neither one had things on the wall yet. Eileen had a handful of small Chinese friends and good luck charms she was finding places for. Alice is neatly packed into boxes inside boxes inside further boxes, so she had four bins, the giant Target bag of stuffies and her wizard lamp and backpack (new, and thus unrecognizable).

I was tired and migraining and Al was nervous and telling me to do things that were either obvious or incorrect, and when we left and had food it got better and when we went home and I had drugs it got better still. I feel off balance, and also like I am going to be off balance until people settle in their next places. It is an article of faith for me that everything happens at once. Aerin is looking at apartments in Boston, and trying to decide how to decide. Sally is just --going. It feels like I have been preparing to lift a heavy load and she has removed all the substance from it, and I am flailing, trying to get my balance and decide how much I am needed at all, and how to respond to her express wish that I, basically, not be involved. Except to help pack. Or do computer stuff. Or maybe to visit. But not to do anything, really. Except help, somehow, in some unspecified way.

Aerin pointed out that our household runs a lot of what people say, and what they say they want. So I have been practicing for years, and they ahve been trained from early on, to talk about what you want and need and want to have happen. Sally hasn't, and probably has had some training in NOT saying what she wants, so I/we/you have to read her emotions rahter than her words. Aerin seems to be better at that than i am, and was trying t help me see how to hear what she is feeling rather than what she is saying. There is very little I can do to retrain her, although she is better at either calling or reverting to plan A if she can't contact anyone, but she is still such a freaking mad loose cannon, and she tries so ahrd to make everything BETTER when I just want to plow ahead and make it fucking be OVER,

I dunno. I took the logbooks, with her blessing, and will look over them with JT at the next lunch maybe. I should find some charts of Marblehead, the Cape and Maine. I'll ask Mat about those, it would take a couple or four, to cover the area in question. And then he/we could look over the log books and see what kinds of stories are in them, and what thigns we did. Where did we go.

I took some pictures of my mother and father getting married, impossibly long ago, and of me being tiny, and of me with yards of braided string around myself in the west Indies in 3rd grade. I can post them, for some throw back thursday kind of thing, because they are quite lovely and are emblematic of other times.

She also let me take my lunch box, the VW bus lunch box, that I remember with SUCH affection. She kind of wanted to keep it, for no reason I could think of unless she wanted to sell them or something, but she decided I could have one after all. It is not the one withth ematching thermos, which is fine - I will probably put something else in it instead, like buttons or thread or beads or something important.

gender 101

Aug. 22nd, 2016 01:19 pm
dancing_crow: (crow)
ok this is hilarious to me

Al just finished Ancillary Justice, and he is being schooled in Gender 101 by Aerin, Alice and Miriam around the protagonist's use of her over he for default gender assignation -

He has apparently skipped a decade or two around gender vs sex and why sex Does Not Matter to the protagonist, and what DOES matter to the protagonist is Citizenship, and ... he is just sputtering, and trying to retrench, and I am having inadequate amounts of sympathy for him.

I think of him as one of the good ones, and he is still SOBLOODYCLUELESS about some stuff. Mostly gender stuff. Mostly discounting women. still pisses me off SOHARD SO FUCKING HARD

In ohter news, Monhegan Island has not descended into the sea just yet, and is still mad picturesque. I am better at painting than last year and am trying to paint more, more MORE, and it is easier. Insane Dr Hart is on the island at the same time. I am wavering between thinking up useful insults or put-downs and practicing "I don't think you should speak to me" My brother is large and remains the same and I adore him. His wife is so smart and so amazing, and is running the island and Will Not Leave, which Mat is finding amusing because for the longest time HE didn't want to leave, and now he is thinking he might like to be somewhere else.

MOAR PAINT. Gotta go.
dancing_crow: (crow)
Welp. We certainly did our part to spin the economy around yesterday.

First thing in the morning (for Al - I'd been up hours!) we went and bought a used car. Honda Civic, 2013 or 14 I forget. While he was talking to the owner (a hilarious woman as well as a shrewd lady) I found the ones that were less than 3 years old, less than 30K miles and less than Al's limit on dollars. We bought the first one we test drove, and honestly we test drove only as far as the local McD's before we knew we'd take it. Compared to the multi-month anxiety about doing it right that we'd had on previous cars, this was a blessed relief. Al got a loaner, and drove away, I took my dad out for lunch and field trip (along Reservation Road into Mt Tom - he was delighted, but really really wanted to find his own house).

Later Aerin, Alice and I went out to Target for Alice's college list. It was modest, but still filled one of their giant red carts. We made up the little pieces we hadn't been able to find along the way, and went out for supper.

I am amused, in retrospect, that we spent more time stumbling around Target than we did test driving cars.

Aerin has an interview tomorrow at Brigham in Boston to talk to a woman with a pile of data who is looking for one adult PhD or two babies to teach. Aerin is interviewing to be a baby. I am stunned with pride at her heading off to Boston to talk to real data people, but she is resolutely not thinking abou tit because the alst time she got excited over a job interview they didn't take her (they should have too) so I am trying not to be too enthusiastic, or anything that might throw her off her game. Whatever her mental process is, she needs me to leave her alone for it.

I was supposed to cross paths with my mother in Worcester, and we waved each other off. She is packing for a move to Maine, well up the coast and overlooking Penobscot Bay. I can't help but feel like she's running farther from me, after begging me to come and help and then not letting me help... parenting is complex. Childing is complex. life can be complex, I would like to make it less so.

So endeth the lesson.
dancing_crow: (crow)
The children's summer theater wrapped up Sunday. I think Aerin is correct, that I have found the perfect theater format for myself; it is short, funny, egalitarian, anti-sexist and working on some other good attributes. The first two shows each ran across two weekends, the first in Easthampton and then in Turners Fall the following weekend. That meant, for the second weekend, loading stuff into a truck in Easthampton, loading into the theater, putting on a Friday night show, coming back for Saturday 10:30am and 1:00pm shows and then loading out of the theater and back down to Easthampton and back into temporary storage there. It made for some very very tiring days, plus it seems to be hotter than ever, and any movement causes sweating and misery, so there was that on top of tired... It was still fun though, and I would do it again next summer.

For the last show, Peter Pan, we couldn't find a Capt. Hook - they kept breaking or getting better jobs or leaving the country. I was angling hard for the part, without any actual hope of getting it, until the director finally said he'd take it. And I could be Smee. I haven't been on a stage since I was sixteen which was, no lie, 40 years ago. So I was both delighted and horrified at the offer but I did take him up on it.

It was fun, and harder than I expected, and hilarious. once I completely ditched any dignity I might have had, and just kept the part of me that most wanted to be a pirate, it got easier. I was onstage with Hook mostly, as a mixture of stooge and nursemaid, and it was really really fun. I have photos somewhere, mostly on FB but I'll see if I can fetch them here.

I was assigned to choose the tiny child who was to play Tinkerbell from the audience for each show. I tried to find someone who wanted to do it, and found a bunh of great kids. One show I chose a pair of sisters who took the first and second act rather than being onstage at the same time, there was a tiny child who kept her fingers in her ears even under her headphones because everything was too loud, but still did a great job, and one tiny child who was too tiny and when Peter shouted at her she melted down. But her mother carried her onstage for the second act when she needed to drink Peter's poisoned medicine and be ill and be fixed again, and she came up for her bows as well.

photos under the cut? )
dancing_crow: (crow)
life is about to get full
it has already been full
tomorrow we start rehearsals for Peter Pan. When I say We I really mean WE this time - I have a part, a speaking part, and I have not done anything like this since I decided in high school my safe and happy place was in the scene shop or working with the lights. So In fact I was probably 16, so a solid 40 years. I was angling for Capt. Hook, but the director wants to do that, or wants me to pay attention to the props/tech issues I have been paying attention to, or both, but when I said I'd play Smee, he agreed. I was kind of shocked when I reread the script, because I have actual lines, and plot points. I thought mostly I would be saying "yes, boss" and offering to fight people.

Peter Pan rehearsals are non-stop this week and next, The Great Race of the Tortoise and the Hare (that ends in a near riot of shrieking children and a photo finish) travels and has the final three performances in Turners Falls in a fabulous old theater that we have inadequate audience for, and then strikes, returns to Williston and we start tech on Peter Pan. It is a whirl wind. I am highly amused.

I took my most recent work to Brattleboro for some coaching or critiquing or encouragement or something from one of my all-time favorite teachers. She said kind and useful things, but said I needed a coach and connector - someone to help me get my foot into the fine arts world from a more crafty starting point. So I have a name for a coach who works with artists. I also, on Lydia's say-so, found the fanciest gallery in Brattleboro and introduced myself and offered to show her one piece of work even though you should never do that. It was kind of funny. I did everything (EVERYTHING) wrong, from showing up, with my work in hand, to having no card (I cannot BELIEVE I was that uncoordinated) and she kept saying yes, we don't usually do this but yes, and let me see that one too... So I have been invited to submit my info via email which means I have to get more formal photos of the work first, and then shuffle together the info and formats they want and get it out. I have to admit I am holding the memory of that interaction very very close, and pulling it out when I get distressed about other things.

Oh and also she asked what i called what I do. I said I called it stitched textile work, but my daughter called it mutant quilts, and she Cracked Up and said that was fabulous and I should go with that...

looking up

Jul. 19th, 2016 10:46 pm
dancing_crow: (crow)
I made everyone come see Ghostbusters with me yesterday. Alice and her friend M cackled though the whole thing, as did I. Aerin was entertained, and had some pointed things to say about graphing their data. Al was ... almost dismissive? And I don't actually care much. Because I have been to a movie that was pandering to meeeee, and it was glorious, and also I have a MAD crsh on Kate McKinnon, along with pretty much everyone else as far as I can tell, and I shall have to take up dancing with propane torches. And the combined beauty and stupidity of their secretary was amazing, and gratifying. And theMRA spouting Red Pill redditor, which was hilarious. And there was no romance. And the leads were all older than 30, and I think three of them were older than 40. I think I am just not going to argue with Al over this. It absolutely isn't worth it.

And then tonight I ahd supper with Red Kate because itwas a Tuesday night hike and I wasn't hiking and I hadn't seen her in aaaages so we pizza for supper and she made me an entire quart of lemonade which I drank all of (!?!) and we talked about guys living as women for a month, and I said longer because they sould have to menstruate more than once,just to understand the relentlessness of it,and we cackled, and decided maybe six months. Kate needs a loom wth actual metal gears on it, because she is having tension issues on her current loom. It has to be frustrating to be working against your tools.

I ahve hacked my bed and put a little piece of support in the middle of my back, just above my hips that seems to be helping me sleep straighter and I can go longer before I wake up sore. Sleeping is gorgeous.

Props are almost done for the next piece of childrens' theater, the Great Race of the Tortoise and the Hare. I've been Instagramming them, because it cross-posts to fb, and we need publicity. I'l spend some time tomorrow getting life organized backstage and figuring out how to get set up and taken down for each rehearsal until Friday. And also streamlining the process of shifting the production from one theater to another for the second weekend. The load-in is fast enough except for flying the screen. And I am collecting cables so we have three different ways to connect the projector to whatever laptop we have on hand, because that was a very very very bad hour when the projector would not connect to the notebook it had been talking to for the last week. It took a new cable to make that work, and that is just wrong.

grumph

Jul. 14th, 2016 09:12 pm
dancing_crow: (crow)
I am too hot and tired and my hips hurt when I wake up and they hurt enough to wake me up around 4am, but once I sit up and stand up and start to walk around they get better, so it is not all misery, just some misery. Also hot. Did I say hot? I am fatter than usual, and it makes me hotter and stupider than usual, and I sweat when I walk and then I drip and it gets in my eyes and stings and fuck. My ankle is better though. Four weeks yesterday and I am stomping to town and back on the regular, and sweating like crazy cakes, and also (ahem) catching Pokemons which... is not what I expected.

I am also sulking, artistically speaking. I have been turned down for six or seven things in a row, and stuff I made for a particular venue in the fall didn't sell there, so it feels very dismissive. And because Aerin is home and sort of asleep in the room next to my studio with a non-functioning door, I have been hesitating to work, so the whole place is silted in and I can't get to anything, and I hate everything in it. To my deep aggravation I have even been turned down for two local things that I should have been a slam dunk for. So there's that. Also it is hot in my room.

What I have been doing is working with the local children's theater (for, not with) which is a good time, if a little wearing. I seem to be the tech consultant, and I find and make all the props. We are doing three shows, two of which have to go into a truck and travel, so a huge part of my work has been to retrofit an ancient three flat system to a more readily portable three flat system by adding hinged jacks to the edges, and then devising some way to hold the three flats together and then fixing and mending and improving two doors and two flaps on a window. There are a lot more magnets, and some latches that are making things more stable.

So yeah, um, Pokemon. I never played before. If you have opinions, let me know. I am still on level 4, so I haven't had to choose a color? side? thing yet. Amanda says Blue, like all self-respecting humans and since I have no other input that'll probably work for me. But I kind of like walking around and "finding" things, and after losing a solid half dozen balls and at least one Pokemon I figured out how to get them. I went for a walk around the block last night, and there were a lot of stars, but no Pokemons. I mean, I have a bunch now, and I feel kind of rich.

Last year when I went to Monhegan I took paint, and canvas, and spent the entire time trying to get what I saw onto the canvas in some way. I have more paint now, but less motivation, and I am thining I might take a crochet hook and some yarn and a book and see if I can figure out how to make some of those adorable tiny amigurumi guys that are EVERYWHERE. Also please excuse capslock, I ahve been too long on fb where there is no other form of emphasis.
dancing_crow: (crow)
I was frankly dubious about going to the cookout/memorial for a family friend, but I rememberd him fondly from my youth and with the loan of an automatic shift car (Aerin took the adorable blue thing to see her young man) I ventured into the wilds of (further) western Massachusetts. (Ankle: still broken, working better, still can't shift)

I am so glad I did. Where Uncle Tom's party was a delicate dance of sympathy and cousins and navigating my mother's conflicting senses of propriety and humor, this one was about someone more distant, making it easier and ... softer somehow. To my delight there were two key people from my youth, like really - I was six - that meant the world to me.

Did you love one or two of your parent's friends? I was so lucky, that my parents were convivial, and well located, and in a big enough house that we had what seemed like a steady flow of people though the house. I think also that I loved easily and thoroughly when I was a child, and some of that has persisted. Two men old enough to be my father, and I was SO pleased to see them. I think it must be hard to look at friend's children and see them as adults, as parents themselved - it takes a special kind of imagination and memory to find the child who worshipped you in the ernest adult standing in front of you. Although I guess the flip side of that is watching anyone age.

I was pleased tht I managed to stand up and tell a story about the friend in question. It was a nice story. My mother was sitting next to me shaking her head muttering that was not the person she remembered. He was a trickster, a coyote, always on the edge of some giant joke that you might be the butt of, or might just as easily be the hero in. It could be confusing. Most of the stories failed to mention that. I think we want to speak well of the dead, for all kinds of reasons.

in other related but unexpected news, I managed to sit next to the most amazing people, and had nice and intelligent conversations for all the rest of the afternoon. That was delightful, and I have an invitation to come and see the farm and the horses and the dogs... which I am looking forward to. She said she invited me becase she liked my smile, and liked the way I was pleased to see my mother, and my mother is a sweetie. Which she is. I even had a seet short visit with my mum, before she had to head back to her visitors. Tomorrow she has another memorial, which I wish I could get to.

I am, in retrospect, astoundingly lucky in my parent's friends.

argh

Jun. 19th, 2016 10:51 am
dancing_crow: (crow)
I was trying SO HARD guys - SO hard - to get off the couch and get stronger with the secret plan, ultimately, of intiving myself to see Hannah and hiking with pups in the Whites, and on Day fucking 4, on the way home with coffee and new yarn, I stepped in a hole on a shortcut from one piece of sidewalk to another and rolled my ankle and now it is actually (the xrays say) broken at the tip end of the fibula. So fuck that, I am hobbling for a couple weeks and the whole try to get better at walking thing is on hiatus. I did not spill my coffee, or lose my new yarn or needles. But still.

That was my Wednesday, and most of Thursday was lunches and suppers with friends and seeing the Dr to ascertain if I should be doing more (or less) than Uncle Google told me to do for sprains. It hurts less than it used to, and I am blissfully free of casts and applying a support only if I go out into the world and have to hobble. I am so grateful for Aerin being home, and having a car she can use to drive me about. I am doubly, triply, unspeakably grateful to her for her kindness and patience and humor with this process. I don't know why I expected anything less, she is a fabulous child, and reared well with kindness, but the level of it is just ... it makes me cry with gratitude and relief.

So Alice and Aerin both have been helping me and handing me things and telling me to sit down again and just take it easy until things hurt less.

When Aerin was little she'd practice "driving" me places at the playground. She'd load me into the back seat, and make sure my seatbelt was clicked in so I'd be safe, and we'd drive forever, she'd tell me about the scenery and we might stop for a donut, but it took me a while to realize it was a perfect mirror of how her life went. I was so relieved that what she felt was the affection, and the interest in her and the delights of the scenery, that what I had for frustration and impatience was not so readily visible and not what was making an impression on her.

Children are a perfect mirror. What they show you is all your kindness and all your faults, and in the hardest possible way. She is old enough now that the things she reflects are no long all things that I installed, but at age 3, all the things she was demonstrating were things I had done to and with her. And the relief I felt was palpable; that she was having a happy childhood, that I was not crushing her spirit or breaking her, that she knew she was both loved and cared for and showed me these things in her play.

So yeah, on the one hand there is the tendency to see our own shortcomings most clearly, to be hardest on ourselves, and on the other is this feeling that I am reaping some of the childrearing I sowed, twenty-odd years ago, and it will be ok. Getting older will be ok. The children becoming adults - that will be ok too.
dancing_crow: (crow)
So that happened. That is Alice, the younger one. She is the one whose mental processes I recognize intimately - the urge to make things, the affection for, pretty much, everyone, the animals, the stuffies, the willingness to balance for a long time with one foot solidly rooted in childhood, the other equally solidly rooted in good sense far beyond her years.

The picture is from a friend because we (a total of 9, counting my mother and friends who are basically aunt, uncle and cousin) were all in the balcony over her left soulder. so yeah, no photos because secnd child syndrome, and also that is just not what I am thinking about at these things. I managed to deflect a LOT of weeping by hollering and clapping for every tech and theater child I knew, every friend of Alice's I knew, every child of friends that I knew, and any child who looked like the process might have been hard. At the end I was hoarse and my hands hurt, but it was pretty gratifying.

And then we went away through the rain to the cellar of Paradiso, and turned off the music and turned up the lights and fed the fainting people appetizers and Miriam (Alice's boon companion on the Rome to Athens trip, and taker of photos while Alice was chronicler of tales) and her parents (English Lit and Art History professors at Smith - the child looked SO NATURAL in her robe and mortar board) joined us and it was lovely.

And then I spent today doing Not One Thing except having coffee with a friend, which was good, and I bumped into someone else on the walk to the coffee and that was also good. Alice says I fell asleep sitting up at my computer again. Which is getting less disturbing the more I do it.

The trouble with a Really Big Day is that it is also Just Another Day and that tightrope of anticipation and delight and significange has to be negotiated and people are constantly CONSTANTLY asking you(me) HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS and the answer is generally - can I get back to you on that? So I think today was dedicated to feeling things. Tomorrow I will take my dad to lunch and then attempt to find some kind of rhythm for the summer.
dancing_crow: (crow)
Saturday evening Great Kate came out, and Sunday she and Red Kate and I went up to see sheep and sheep dogs and yarn and fabric and roving and shearing and all things sheepy and wooly. It was kind of overwhelming for me, and cements my personal feeling that I should never ever ever ever go to Rhinebeck because it is all lovely and all different and all the same. I mean, all charming and lovely too - so many lovely things to look at, and think about, so many friendly sheep, looking like muppets, bellowling or blapping, more or less ready to be patted or scratched behind the ears. So so SO many charming human beings offering helpful advice and conversation about sheep and wool and yarn and all the things that make them happy and presumably us as well.

I found a skein of sock yarn in a colorway called "you are going to be just fine" which made me kind of moist around the eyes so I bought it as a talisman against the future. I wound it into a center pull ball today with only a single tangle at the very end which feels like a good omen.

Great Kate and I left Red Kate happily spinning while protesting that she couldn't spin, and went along to a pique nique in celebration of the end of school for all concerned, organized by Aerin's boyfriend's mother who is charming. Aerin and her young man brought the yellow boat up and had a sail around the pond, someone I didn't know (to my chagrign) showed up with something with a heartbreakingly lovely shearline and two places for rowers and rowed across the pond and back. It looked like what we used to call the Famiy Yacht - a 14' Whitehall fiberglass replica that could hold three or four plus a well stocked picnic basket, and one or two could row. We took that all over Woods Hole and surrounding islands, in some moderate weather even - it was solid and glorious fun.

Great Kate ambled home that afternoon, and today has been spent by us having headaches and naps, in relays, all day long. Not necessarily at the same time. either the headaches, or the naps, or at the same time as any one else is having them.
dancing_crow: (crow)
that went far better than I hoped.

The celebration of Uncle Tom's life was Friday evening at the yacht club, an institution of spit and polish, varnish and excessive drinking since 1871. A solid percentage of the men had had pink pants that were later explained to be Nantucket Red which is a yachting color, and there was a Great Deal of soutache braid in elaborate patterns on all the men (no women, they were relegated to social secretaries) who were currently or had ever been Commodore (that would be president, for us landlubbers). We were late because my brother and family got caught in Maine traffic, and Anne was getting tightly wound and exasperated by the time we arrived. Many people said wonderful things about Uncle Tom, organized and hustled along by my cousin, his son Nat. As cousin Abby pointed out, she knew less than half the people there from her childhood, because her parents, particularly her father, had gone on doing other things; adopting new hobbies, new causes and new friends as he went along.

My kids were grand, my husband kind and presentable, everyone stayed as long as they could before they melted. Al and the girls headed home, I went back to Anne's house and hung out with cousins and my brother for a while and then to my mother's and slept.

This morning we were sternly told to be present at the yacht club well in advance of the 11 o'clock departure of the boat. We presented ourselves, as required, and waited.... to discover that our boat was on the wrong side of the railroad bridge, which would't go up, and the boat couldn't go under until the tide went down a little. So we waited. It was a nice place to wait. It was a dock. There were pretty boats in the harbor. The sun was shining. The wind was blowing. Eventually the boat showed up, and we all chose a flower or two and went aboard. We powered out to Newcomb Ledge, and said some kind things and scattered Tom's mortal remains over the side along with the flowers. The giant pink and white peonies floated and looked lovely on the sea.

I think everyone relaxed some after that and talked a little more freely as we headed back. When we landed we all went back to Anne's again, and had more food, and then started saying goodbye to everyone, over and over and over, walking around and around and promising to meet up again. We probably won't, but it might be worth saying we might.

excitable

May. 17th, 2016 07:48 pm
dancing_crow: (crow)
Warren Zevon never looked hard enough at his mother to write my song,
he stuck with Excitable Boy,
he who commited murder and was horrific,
and completely missed
the one where the old witch woman sits in the back yard
cackling over a fire pit of bones and sticks
roasting marshmallows and pretending they are birds
toasting bread, letting butter melt down her elbows
greasy and mad
rolling her eyes
shaved her head
watching the young roll by
a witch by definition is still
an old woman
a hut with chicken legs is starting to look pretty good
a couple of cats
a nice dog
plenty of room to make stuff and a little alimony or allowance
after feeding everyone
all the time
forever

Although maybe I only want no schedule
or my own schedule
or no other bodies to think of or herd about or manage somehow

there is a certain freedom to getting the younger child to eighteen
the temporary majority in which they can vote and marry
but not drink or smoke
which has to chap someone
but made sense at the time
dancing_crow: (crow)
I've been off balance, teetering on the brink of distressed and weepy for no good reason. If I think about it, I know I would feel better if I could make it to the gym, accomplish some exercise, stick my nose in a horse, ride my bike, but the threshold for doing any of those things seems unsupportably HIGH and I am unable to clear it without stubbing my toes.

I also know that making stuff generally makes me happier, and I have been working on that. But the whole studio scene has been feeling oddly pointless if I can't find an outlet for it - gallery girl wants landscapes, but what it pulling on me is these larger more abstract sinuous river works, and she hasn't got the space for them or the people who want them. Shich means finding an audience for them, or figuring out how to craft them for her audience, or something, and thinking about it is just making me tired.

Aerin is home from college, she's slept most of a week. She said today at supper that she thinks she might have mostly caught up because the book she was reading suddenly got stupid. And she was half-way through book two. Of a trilogy. So that made us both laugh.

I had the distraction of my dad today, so I took him over the to the Amherst College Natural History Museum (the museum formerly known as the Pratt) and he was gobsmacked. It was charming and delightful. Out of a smallish museum of three levels, we saw half of the middle level and roughly half of the top level, and then we had to go fortify ourselves with lunch and settle our whirling brains. We will probably do that agin a couple of times, since there are still things to explore. He had a nice time opening all the drawers that visitors are allowed to open, and admiring the fossils within. It is a super little museum, and a family favorite. Next time we'll take some subset of the girls as well. Today was much easier mentally than two weeks ago. We were in the present, and talking about geology, and current things, and he was pretty solid. I think it is trying to remember things, particularly people, where he gets lost, and then goes in circles.

Al and I are negotiating how to get Aerin wheels so she can transport herself to and from job interviews, actual work, and her young man near Boston. My mother has very kindly offered half, but Al has some issues around giving her a thing she can't maintain, and is quibbling over exact phrasing of ownership, which is tense.
dancing_crow: (crow)
I think it is weird that the mental image I have of Uncle tom is from black and white photos taken before I was born; of him with Sally and Tim in various stages of childhood, in various collections of family, and one vivid image of him at the helm of Reva, sailing out of Manchester probably, because I think he did that forever, and the whisp of my mother's back nearby. They were so tight, they worked so well together, they were so important to each other. I don't know how to think about that.

My brother and I don't have that kind of working, easily affectionate relationship. I want to know what he is thinking and doing, he wants to be sure we're ok, and beyond that we don't really spend enough time visitng, and talking, to understand the other very well. I could change that. I could call more often, talk more, reach out more, just say hi more.

I brought Aerin home from college yesterday... all the way across the river from Amherst to here, all ~8 miles of it, but she's been living in a dorm and had stuff to get out and get home. We talked while she got the last of her stuff into containers and into the car, and talked going home. Al pointed out this morning he had been working on wrapping his head around the idea of having no girls home and right now there are two girls home and he is confused.

Aerin and Alice started talking as soon as Al and I went to bed. I could hear them, laughing, in the living room. It was lovely. I asked Alice why she and Aerin got along so much better than other sibs I saw, and her answer completely floored me. she said she'd watched Al with his sister Nancy, and me with Mat, and decided she and Aerin would need to get along well when they wer bigger so they should probably start sooner rather than later. I asked how old she was when she made this observation, she said maybe 6 or 7, because she'd thought it, and then pinched Aerin. Because one's inner 40 year old can only speak to the current occupant of your brain for so long. I'm not sure Aerin has an inner 40 year old, but she has other motivators so it does not actually matter.

So yeah. Aerin finished college, graduated, went through a bunch of different ceremonies and is now officially done. She was ringed with a golden collar for completing work within the Commonwealth Honors College, and Jared insists her name had all kinds of stuff after it in the general graduation program which none of us retained one of because it was bucketing rain and cold and the seats in the stands of the football stadium were soggy so we all sat on the programs. Not one remains. We are taking his word for it, until we can locate some corroborating details. We think she graduated Cum Laude, which is excellent and praiseworthy. It occurred to me that we never doubted she would finish - she is a good student and scholar, comfortable in school, good at organizing her life around academics. I am much more dubious about how she is going do to out of school, and how she intends to deal with the process of getting a job... So we have been low key to the point of catatonia, which is pretty much out M.O. for stuff like this. A big dinner, a lot of chocolate, a fair amount of "job well done sweetie" and then sleep for a week.
dancing_crow: (crow)
I dunno why I have things to say today

I've always felt a certain affection for Lydia Pinkham - she ran an emporium composed almost entirely of alcohol and possibly cocaine and morphine dissolved in vegetable extract, she labelled it with her face, which was critiqued endlessly in ways women today find very familiar, and she left behind an extraordinary building in Lynn that used to be cheap industrail space and seems to have transitioned to cheap artist space.

My spare father designed his own boat, and built it in the Pinkam building over the course of seven years. We called the building the Pinkorium, and the boat Heitmann's Folly until the glorious day he launched it, at which point I took seven rolls of film worth of photos (back when film was a thing). Sundowner was launched from the boatyard we lived next to for several years in Marblehead. Instead of a marine railway, they had a crane that was originally steam-powered like Mary-Ann the steam shovel (four corners, straight and square) and had been retro-fitted with a diesel engine when it was bolted to the ground so that heavier boats could be lifted into and out of the harbor.

We moved into the house when my brother was 3, and within a month he could make all the noises of all the power tools he could hear in the boatyard. We'd go down into the back yard (everything was built into a hill, and no two adjacant square yards were level) and hang on the fence and watch people working on their boats and talk to anyone who would talk back. In that back yard we also had a jungle-gym, a set of towing bits from a dying tug boat, and a sand box.
dancing_crow: (crow)
drove to see Sally yesterday
she was
...nearly light hearted. It was unexpected. I think for her dread and suffering are worse than death, and having something be over is a relief. It was clear to her that her brother Tom was physically miserable, even though his mind was there, he was in enormous pain as parts of his body stopped working. I had thought we would go see Aunt Ann, but we just hung out at her house and talked about sailing and boats and animals we'd had, and our shared past and her past with Uncle Tom. I brought some pictures down from her bureau - she sent me up to look at a photo of Aerin, Al and me from Aerin's first year, Aerin cheerful and drooly, two teeth and a grin, but we have that photo on the fridge and I was more taken with others. I brought down the one of my grandmother, mother and me, lined up like peas in a pod, and a bunch of my mother with her brothers at various ages, started at age one looking dubious, and working her way up to older age. There is a big chunk missing in the middle, from when we were kids and she was in her 30s and 40s. I'd like to find those, somewhere, and the ones of Sally and Tom sailing Reeva with all those friends from forever ago.





Sally, Tom is the middle child, Tim the oldest. i think there is four years between Sally and Tom - there was another daughter in between but she died of ...diptheria? as an infant. Tim is oldest by 2 years.

I think of Tim as case hardened. He decided he was unable to please anyone so he might as well please himself, and he went off and studied engineering and took a break and went through the army and came back and worked for AT&T forever, starting as a lineman climbing telephone poles and fixing wires aloft. He's still alive, divorced from the (slightly crazy) mother of his four children and remarried to a woman I like a lot, with a New Yawk accent that can cut steel.

Tom, in contrast, was painfully polite and worked hard to please everyone. His moments of rebellion were small but successful. He scrounged vacation time and organized his family and sailed across the Atlantic and down the coast of Ireland, England and Europe, into and around the Mediterranean, back across the Atlantic on the trade winds and home along the east coast. It took over a year, and he made it all go, and brought everyone home, and sent them all back to school again. This is such a stark contrast to the five month flail our family did attempting to run a charter boat that was totally not as advertised in the Caribbean - that is a different story.

My mother tried briefly to do as was expected and just decided not to. She is also a story for another time.

Uncle Tom left some notes for his family, to help organize the celebration of his life. He included handy lists of friends and what parts of life they hailed from, and a list of all the boats he'd owned, and the length. That was pretty much peak Uncle Tom, right there. His memory will be a blessing.
dancing_crow: (crow)
I got stuck yesterday writing about the frustration and circularity of talking with Jt my dad about my Sally - looking at her FB page and every time he sees Sally Thomson he says "oh that must be my sister" and I say "that's my mother, Boston Sally" and he says "oh. you know, I don't think I remember what she looks like" and I say "she looks like me - she's gorgeous" and he says something nice about how I am beautiful, with beautiful children, and three minutes later we do it again. It is easier to distract him and go off on tangents about strandbeests and boats and my kids and Brownell and Monhegan and all the other things I do have photos of. Because he'll see pictures of Sally and say yikes - she's scary! and I want to hit him. She's 82. He's 91, and no particular prize himself, what does he think happens to people when they age? How is my mother's aging face different from his lovely sister's aging face? Can I shout at him, even if it won't make any difference? I was so pleased to have an answer when he asked me what my mother looked like: she looks like me, she's gorgeous. That felt like a triumph against so many different narratives, both within my family and in his head and in the universe at large and in defense of my mother against my father's retro-aggravation. But this revision hurts, and repeating at three minute intervals is killing me. I can not do it; I can figure out how to not do it by curating the photos I show him better, but that was instructive.
dancing_crow: (crow)
I hate everything

My uncle died Friday night
I should have gone to see him last month
or last week
I should have visited my mother yesterday

Lucia my step-mother almost convinced me to take my dad to see my mother today, to pay his respects, except my mother waved us off which was a good thing.

My dad's memory is going, is gone, is strangely holey... he says he can't remember what my mother looks like, so I tell him she looks like me, she was gorgeous. He remembers he liked my Uncle Tom, that they talked boats and were friends over engineering and sailing and living in New England with Boston girls. We were looking for photos of anyone on my computer, after talking to my mom, and yeah it doesn't help that his sister and his ex-wife my mother are both Sally Thomson and I was Cynthia when he knew me best, and Sally's daughter is Sarah... sorry. It was a long several hours.

I am driving east to see my mother tomorrow. Well probably lunch, and have to visit Aunt Ann, and then I'll come back or have to spend the night depending on how tenuous she is.

I have new thread
I cannot find small (3/8" // 1 cm) copper washers anywhere. When I look online, three of the top five sites were made to order with minimums in the thousands. I only need hundreds. Anybody have a couple hundred smallish copper washers? it would improve my life dramatically.

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