February 26, 2009

Lonely Days

"All the other kids get mail and packages from home." "They do?" I asked. "I call you almost every day and I email you, too." Suddenly, Hart's complaint made perfect sense. Phone calls and email are ephemeral, but a letter or package is tangible proof that someone loves you and cares about you.

Thankfully, friends and relatives have helped. Hart has received postcards from traveling friends, numerous elephant-themed cards, treats from his uncle in the food business, a soccer ball from his sporty uncle, and a number of handmade cards and pictures from his classmates from last year. And, weekly postcards from me.

It's lonely for Hart living in an institutional setting. However, it's lonely and isolating for me, too. I hadn't quite reckoned on that. We have no boarding school system in this country, so having a child "away" is odd and unusual. Hart's school has no PTO or parent support group that I know of, possibly due to privacy issues. I am getting used to the quizzical looks when acquaintances ask after Hart.

I think of Hart constantly. Possibly even more than when he lived with me. Back then, when the boys left for school, I would shift gears for a few hours, then regroup for their return home at 3:30. Now the days without Hart drag on endlessly. I don't supervise his homework anymore, but I don't know what he is doing in school at all. I worry about Hart's weight and appearance, but I can't select his clothes or cook for him from afar. I have entrusted all that to strangers, professionally-qualified strangers, but still . . .

The choice to send Hart to residential school is the essence of parenting writ large: make your best choices; know your own limitations.

May 2001. We both look much younger!

February 17, 2009

IMAGINE THAT: LETTERS FROM RUSSELL finds new fans now and then

Dear B,

I finished the book with the tears I knew I'd have. (Even though I peeked at the ending - more than once.) I am so sorry I never got to know - or even hear about - Russell. He was an amazing writer, with such courage, humor and downright humanity, that I envy those who knew him well, loved him well, even though the pain of losing him had to be terrible. I've said before, in similar circumstances, where a friend or relative had lost a most accomplished and admirable person - despite your pain, you, at least got to know and love that person. The rest of us never did.

But for Russell himself - I hardly know how to understand such a gallant human being. In every situation he chose the side of goodness. And he was true to his writing gift, his beliefs, and his friendships, as long as he lived. I'll never found an answer that lets me accept why some people die too soon or don't live long enough--actually I don't know what "too soon" or "not long enough" means, spiritually speaking. Children die before their purpose and potential barely begin. Elderly people live long enough to see too many people they loved die before them.

And yet, people like Russell, (and others I know), draw in happiness and purpose and love with their every breath. So happy that they rarely complain on their own behalf.

This book should be re-published and/or re-publicized. Thank you for giving me the chance to read it.

February 8, 2009

M-O-L-A, Mola! (photos)

purchased in Panama, Casco Vieja, July 2014 
purchased in Panama, Casco Vieja, July 2014
The first one, the beginning of the collection.

Michele and I have matching change purses,
 from the same recycled mola. Purchased in Panama.

More about Kuna Indians of Panama and molas:

February 4, 2009

A Very Short Play

As the curtain rises, Cinderlydia is seen sobbing quietly in her own little corner. The evil step-brothers have been mean and disrespectful to her. Since she is old enough to be their mother, she does all the cooking, cleaning, washing and marketing for them without complaint. But the brothers take her for granted and treat her poorly. Just then, in a puff of smoke, a beautiful woman appears.

FG: Why are you crying, my child?

C: How did you get in? Who are you?

FG: I am your fairy godmother.

C: Jewish people have fairy godmothers?

FG: Everyone has a fairy godmother.

C: Really? Where have you been for the past few years?

FG: You are not my only client, you know. I have a very heavy caseload. Now about that ball, let's get to work.

C: What ball? I'm not invited to a ball. Hey, do you have any spare princes handy?

FG: No can do. That's strictly against regulations. You have to provide your own prince. I'm more in the makeover line. You know . . . pumpkins into carriages, schmattes into couture.

C: I really don't need a fancy ball gown.

FG: Hmmm. Ready-to-wear really killed the fairy godmothering business. If you aren't invited to a ball, and you don't need a new frock or a beautiful carriage, why I am here?

C: My two little evil step-brothers are just being particularly difficult. I don't know if there's anything you can do for me.

FG: Tell you what. You say there are two of them? I'll take one over to the next kingdom. Very progressive school at that castle. Once he's educated and civilized, I'll bring him back.

C: Well, OK. You're sure he'll be well-taken care of?

FG: Rumpelstiltskin is great with children. You'll see.

February 3, 2009

Weather Forecast

J: What's the temperature today?
L: It's very cold. Around 7 degrees.
J: How many more months of winter?
L: Two, February and March, but April can be cold, too.
J: That groundhog stinks!