Fall Memories

It’s been a gorgeous fall…

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It’s been a busy Fall…

I made a quick visit to Arlington to see my parents and brother…

My friend and I took a weekend trip to New York to see our kids…IMG_9191

I’m always amazed at how much Morningside Heights has changed since I was a graduate student. It’s a little disconcerting, (but awesome)! that there’s a farmer’s market right on Broadway.

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The Guggenheim has always been my favorite New York museum. The scale of it is just right for an afternoon visit…But first we had to wait in a line that literally went around the block for Pay What You Wish admission.

We caught a two-day art installation projected onto the side of Rockefeller Center by neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer.IMG_9234

Kehinde Wiley’s “Rumors of War” statue has just moved to its permanent home in Richmond, Virginia at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, but we got a sneak peak while it was still in the middle of Times Square:

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Back home…OKAX4117

I tried (and tried and tried) to convince my husband that the perfect I-survived-cancer, 50th birthday gift would be a puppy…IMG_9263

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Will he cave?

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“Heart of stone”

For now I’ll have to settle for visiting my friend’s adorable new pup.

I took the kids to see Adam Silver talk about The Business of Sports…

My book group buddies and I went to Pennsylvania for the weekend. We sat by a campfire, made terrariums, and befriended the local fauna.

A weekend visit from a dear friend and a trip to Carter Mountain apple orchard inspired two more trips to pick the most delicious Fuji apples!IMG_9351

We went through shocking quantities of Fujis this Fall..

IMG_9501IMG_9500IMG_9497IMG_9533Working on college applications and the dreaded FAFSA…

Halloween!IMG_9464

We’re always running a little behind…hence my daughter’s Halloween party in November:

A too-short but sweet visit from my California girls:

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Signing off for now. Hope to be back in this space a little more regularly.

Decorating for Christmas…

It’s that time of the year…

 

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We’ve been getting live Christmas trees for the past few years. They do well for about half a year or so and then they precipitously expire in a melodramatic cascade of brown needles. This year we actually managed to keep our Christmas tree alive for the first time ever. (I must remember to saw out 1/3 of the rootball in February as the nurseryman instructed us to do to keep it happily growing in its pot). It’s way too heavy to hoist back onto our porch, where it lived last Christmas, and this makes decorating it more complicated.

Since we can only put up ornaments that can handle rain or snow, I thought birdseed ornaments would be just the thing. It turns out they are crazy expensive to buy, but a snap to make. I found a recipe online that uses unflavored gelatin, corn syrup, flour & birdseed pressed into cookie cutters prepped with cooking oil spray.

Here are a few:

 

Next time I’ll use a mixed birdseed and more colorful ribbons so they look a little more interesting.

The problem in our household is that everyone wants Christmas decorations, but no one actually wants to put them up…

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It’s a start!

Beloved Community

It’s August 12, 2018: one year after the events that shook our beloved community. A year ago, I desperately wanted to believe that the horrors we experienced were imported into Charlottesville by outsiders. A year later I have to face the truth – some of the hate was homegrown. Two of the organizers were graduates of the university. People we counted on to protect our community let us down in a shocking way. This year, our children witnessed an emboldened racism on their own school bus that made them so miserable, they begged to be driven to school.

Here in Charlottesville, we’ve been on tenterhooks for weeks as we’ve anticipated the anniversary of that terrible day last summer. In the last few days, police and the National Guard have poured into Charlottesville. Seven hundred policemen have been housed in dormitories on grounds. We’ve heard the drone of military helicopters above for days. We speculated that the aggressive police presence meant that there was information we weren’t privy to. It was unnerving to say the least. Last year the authorities told us to stay at home, and we listened. This year, my family was determined to stand in solidarity with our community.

My husband sang at the Morning of Reflection and Renewal at the University of Virginia. Afterward, we decided to go to the Downtown Mall, where Heather Heyer was murdered and where dozens others were injured last year. If nothing else, we would go to support the merchants whose businesses were going to take a huge hit once again. We drove through mostly empty streets with trepidation. When we arrived, the only way to access the pedestrian mall was to go through the most intense security I’ve ever experienced anywhere. My entire backpack was gone through with meticulous care. Every single zipper was opened. My wallet was taken out and opened.

IMG_6149Most of the stores on the mall were closed. In one of the few stores that were open, we chatted with the store manager about the security getting onto the mall. She told us that one of her employees didn’t come in, because her parents didn’t feel comfortable sending her to work that day. She told us that as a woman who lived alone, she always carried pepper spray in her purse. This had been confiscated. She told us that another employee had her Swell water bottle taken away. (If you don’t know, those are rather expensive water bottles)! You know what wouldn’t have been taken away at the security checkpoints? Guns. Wouldn’t want to infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

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“Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

That was our plan.IMG_6157

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On Sunday morning we went to a Community Gathering Against White Supremacy.

We made it through the weekend in peace. We fervently hope that it lasts. I’ll never see Charlottesville in the same way I did a year ago, but I love this town more than ever. It’s not a perfect idyll, but it is a city willing to confront its past and to strive to do better.

Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.  Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Weekend Snapshots 58: Easter Fools Editions

Friday

We celebrated the start of the kids’ spring break at Maru, the new Korean restaurant on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall.

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There are some interesting twists on the menu, like kimchi arancini.img_3497

And there are straight classics, like dolsot bibimbap.

The kids loved their bossam, (lettuce wraps).

Saturday

Virginia Bluebells always remind me of this scene in Sleeping Beauty, when the fairy godmothers try to outspell each other to make her dress blue, no pink, no blue!

When my mother-in-law’s primulas start blooming, I know it really is spring at last. 

I took the kids to see Fun Home at LiveArts. The themes and language were far more adult than I was expecting, but the musical was deeply moving and beautifully performed.

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Sunday

I awoke in the early hours of the morning to the sound of tape being ripped with ferocious intensity. The night before the younger two made their declaration of war. Their older brother asked to be left out of the battle. It took me a moment to figure out that the Great April Fools Easter War of 2018 had officially begun.

The noise I had heard was the sound of the 15 year old taping saran wrap to his sister’s bedroom door. She had frozen his toothbrush in a mug of water the night before. He retaliated by using his Water Pik against her like a makeshift water gun. She in turn attacked him with chalk fingerprints all over his choir robe.

Finally, after singing for two Easter services in a row, we were all feeling rather exhausted.

“Please, let’s stop this. I can’t take anymore,” the 15 year old said as we trudged back to the car.

The 12 year old was exultant: “Does that mean I won?!”

“Yes! You won. I’ll take my punishment. But, please let me do it tomorrow. I just can’t face it today.” (More on that later).

And so an Easter Armistice was declared.

The kids celebrated the end of war with the Easter egg hunt that awaited them back at home…

The biggest hit was the new basketball the Easter bunny left for them…

That evening we sat down to a traditional Easter dinner…if Easter just so happened to coincide with April Fool’s Day…The parents had one last trick up their sleeve:

Oh…and that punishment I mentioned earlier?

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Weekend Snapshots 57

Friday

Spring has sprung in C’ville!  I took the day off work to spend some time with family and friends…img_3383

…who came to support our favorite author at the Virginia Festival of the Book!

Saturday

Tiger Pelt book signing…

Sunday

Weekend Snapshots 55

Friday

I awoke to the sound of our son (aka Jiminy Cricket) opening our bedroom door. An early riser, he was the first to realize that powerful winds had left us powerless. He was making the rounds of all the bedrooms, leaving flashlights for everyone on their bedside tables.

Schools were closed for the day for the kids, but my husband and I had to get to work. It was a harrowing trip that involved rerouting several times because of road blocks, driving through a roadblock, and twice driving under a tree resting on power lines. Meanwhile, the kids spent the day shivering in a house that was cold, dark, and without water. My daughter’s was delighted to get out of the house that evening to go to her quartet practice…

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We went out to dinner and then killed some more time at a bookstore, all the while compulsively checking the Dominion Power website on our phones to see if power had been restored to our neighborhood. When it became clear that we would spend another night without power, we stopped off at two different grocery stores to find enough water to drink and to flush toilets.

My daughter and I camped out in the living room next to a cozy fire…

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Saturday

…but woke up shivering in a house that still had no power.

It’s amazing how quickly we lose the will to be civilized when there is no electricity. Dirty dishes piled up in the sink. Clothing was discarded on the floor. Tissues were used then left on the coffee table rather than thrown into the trash. Worst of all, we became like rats in a cage, snapping and snarling at each other for no good reason.

We tried to restore our humanity at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, where we caught the end of the remarkable Terracotta Warriors exhibit…

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Back in Charlottesville, we dropped one son off at a friend’s dad’s office to work on a project and my daughter off at church, where her Sunday School class was serving dinner to the homeless guests who are there for PACEM. After taking the opportunity to fill jugs with water to take back home, my son and I decided to have dinner at the newly-opened J Petal: a Japanese crepe and Thai ice cream restaurant.

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We picked my daughter up and as we drove back to the house, I began to whine about the prospect of having to spend another cold night without power. I felt immediately chastened when from the back seat my girl piped up: “Think about the people in Puerto Rico…Some of them haven’t had power for 6 months. And then, of course, I thought about the homeless people who have to worry about keeping warm and having enough food and water to eat on a daily basis. We came back home to lights, heat, water, and a renewed appreciation for the simple things we take for granted. It was hard to fully enjoy it, though, knowing that friends around town were still without power and thinking about those for whom this situation is not just a temporary inconvenience.