The Bibliofillies met for the first time in person since March 2020 tonight on my patio. I had planned to make a light supper for the nine of us, but realized last week when I got the brace on that that wasn’t going to work out. So I asked if we could do a potluck instead, and my wonderful fillies came through like the stars they are, with numerous salads and curried egg salad toasts and homemade pistachio gelato and cupcakes from Blue Sky Baking Company. It was a glorious, balmy evening full of joyful connection, and thoughtful conversation about the book I’d chosen, Klara and the Sun by Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro. Nobody liked it as well as I did, but the most controversial books usually stimulate the best discussion.
I’m so grateful for our book club! We steadfastly continued to meet through the pandemic via Zoom, and will likely return to that format as this illusory window of normalcy closes on the inevitable Delta variant in our predictably low-vaccinated county. And I’m grateful when we have visitors who have taken the time to also ‘consume’ the book. We discussed whether, if you listen to a book is it still called reading? I think so, but we tossed around some other possible words.
I’m also grateful for my stoic, resilient Stellar Stardog Son of Sundog, who’s been having a good week, so we’ve taken incrementally longer walks each day, shortly after sunrise while it’s still delightful cool. I’m grateful for cool nights. I’m grateful for cool, smooth sheets at the end of a fulfilling day. I wish similar comfort for you.
Today was so cold, grey, and windy relatively speaking, and I had so much computer work to do, that it was a great day to stay inside. I’m grateful for choices. I left the patio pot filling and potato planting for tomorrow. I’ve caught up on all my work assignments, and now I have the rest of the week to finish coursework, and plant potatoes, and simply sit in the joy of pure being in this little sphere of influence.
Probably about time to bring the cacti out. Listen to those fat cows bellowing! Where will I put potatoes? Here’s a stray marker. What happened to the parsley? When will the sweet peas emerge? Give them time, time. Those hard dry pea seeds need to soften, relax into the ground where they’re now dwelling before they’re willing to burst their fragile boundaries and reach upward to the light.
OK, I see I’ll have to make time to simply sit this week. There’s always something new, something more, to do in the garden, or some question to consider. Not just in the garden, in the woods as well. The sphere of my influence has slowly extended outward, like the proverbial ripples on a pond, at a glacial pace. Almost thirty years here, how little I still know, yet how familiar I am with this land. Deer trails criss-cross the slope of this ancient alluvial fan. The first wildflowers are in bloom, shy buckwheats. I’ve watched these little pinions grow from seedlings to saplings, then all in a cluster turn brown and die. They’ve been a landmark first as they grew, ah yes, this is where I am, this is how far from home and which direction, and now as standing dead. Will I cut them? Will I leave them? I feel they should all be cut, taken out, this space opened for something less flammable.
But for now, it’s time to decorate cupcakes. Choices.
Back inside, as the sun set, Topaz and Stellar slept, while I frosted zucchini-chocolate cupcakes, trying out nozzles and techniques for the third time since I chose this skill to learn. I’m getting better with the roses, and discerning which patterns which nozzles make, and how to squeeze and twist the bags. What’s happened to green food coloring since fifty years ago? Who chose to make it neon green? Eew. I chose to stop after eight cupcakes as the frosting softened and roses sagged. Where’s the eighth cupcake? Well… I’m grateful for choices – it was delicious!
Today I’m grateful, as I have been most Sundays since last summer, for my newfound, longlost cousins on my mother’s side. Cousin Jack initiated a weekly zoom call among his siblings and their mother, and kindly included me, Auntie, and Auntie’s daughter in his invitation. It’s been heart-filling to be back in touch with these four boys and two girls with whom I spent many special occasions through our growing up years. Sometimes my brother shows up, sometimes some of their grown children show up, and even young grandchildren. In each session, their mother Clara is there at 93 with tech assistance from granddaughter Amanda or one of her visiting children. In the first couple of months, Auntie Rita was able to attend also, even though for half of those times she struggled with the effects of her stroke.
But she was there fully for a few sessions before the stroke diminished her capabilities, and it was delightful to observe her and Aunt Clara speak together, sharing their thoughts and lives, their concern for each other, much as they had for around seventy years as sisters-in-law. Remarkably, these two women were born on the same day of the same year. And it was wonderful that Auntie was able to see many of her nieces, nephews, and grand-nieces and -nephews a few times before she died, and they her. For me, it’s been a real gift to feel connected to family again as I haven’t since my mother died. And I hadn’t felt connected to these grown cousins for decades before that, as we all went our separate grownup ways, and because I’d been branded a black sheep by their father, my Uncle the General: for my radically compassionate philosophy he considered me a communist, and said so, which is how I know.
Oh well! We don’t all ~ or even many of us ~ share the same political views, which has been a little challenging for me. But the camaraderie, the teasing, the humor and affection that we shared as children chasing each other around the grounds of the Distaff Hall, playing hide and seek in the Knoll House, sharing holiday dinners at one another’s homes, feels stronger than it ever did as we have all lived through enough of life to be tender and accepting with one another. The three siblings ~ a father and two mothers ~ that bind us as family have all died; only Clara remains, one mother among us, and they are kind enough to share. I’m protective of my time these days, but our Cousins’ Zoom is an event I prioritize each weekend, because it brings me such joy, and a feeling of connection I realize I have longed for since long before The Time of the Virus.
I’m grateful for every day that Stellar and I both wake up alive, and are both able to walk to Ice Canyon. He’ll be 13 two weeks from yesterday, and boy will I have a lot to say about that then. We both stumble and wobble a bit in the deep snow and icy path through the woods, and he naps hard when we return to the cozy house. Some days he could probably make it down there, but I don’t have the energy; other days he stumbles just a bit too much to go that far. So each day that we make it is extra good.
I’m grateful I had time to squeeze in the simple pleasure of cooking soup and baking cupcakes today, and the patience to squeeze out buttercream frosting from a new piping kit this evening.
Each day is precious and unique, and its opportunities come but once. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be of service to my community, as I was this day, and grateful to be part of an excellent and conscientious team working to make the world a better place. I’m grateful again today for technology that makes it possible for me to contribute to community without leaving my hermitage, and to connect with and see the beloved faces of faraway friends.