A life well lived…

My book group most recently gathered on March 22, and all of us remarked on the absence of our friend Carol.  “She’s never sick,”  “She never misses,” and similar comments greeted the news that she wouldn’t be joining us that night.  The following Saturday we learned that she had pancreatic cancer, and the following Tuesday she died.  The swiftness and shock of it all were evident on the faces of her friends and family who gathered for the memorial two days Continue reading “A life well lived…”

Time for some Culture

Getting students comfortable enough to speak another language is hard work.  Students’ fear of making mistakes, general shyness and/or uncertainty all do battle with my efforts to get them to communicate en français.   The constant work on vocab and verbs and pronunciation takes up every second of the class, but sometimes we just have to carve out time for something else.  Yesterday was one such day.  The French fête of Chandeleur  (a combination of Pagan and Christian celebrations that anticipate Spring)  was actually Thursday, but our school schedule made it easier to make crèpes for the kids on Friday. Round, golden crepes remind us of the sun, or so the story goes,  but they also remind the kids that French class is cool and Madame est super cool.

Making crepes and getting ready to make crepes is really quite the production for me.  I arrive at school with the crepe-maker, the blender, a cooler full of ingredients, and a bag of tools and dishes.  I have to get up a little earlier to make a batch of batter before I leave for school because it has to sit for an hour.  Then I have to set out all the fillings, the plates, the recipes, and so forth.  The effort pays off as the need to communicate becomes something tangible for the kids.  I can get a yummy crepe and smear it with Nutella and strawberries!  Or bananas and chocolate chips if I just ask for it politely in French!  And whipped cream!  Merci Madame they all think.  And they forget to worry about the mistakes.  They all think about Chandeleur, the coming spring, and how easy and delicious crepes are.  As for me, I’m worn out (but pleased).  Meanwhile, the kids in my English classes are resentful.

 

Oh my aching back and wooden spoon…

The discomfort hit me as we were walking toward the checkout line. The nerves and muscles around my sacral and lumbar vertebrae decided to twinge and then ache with low-to mid-level pain. I was bummed because today is Sunday, and on Sundays, I cook. I cook all day because I love to cook and because we then have dinners for the rest of the week, making those work days easier.

Today is a stormy Sunday, and the weather forecast says rain all week, so that calls for soup. minest Continue reading “Oh my aching back and wooden spoon…”

What did I read? I don’t recall…

I’ve been laid up for a few days, so I’ve been perusing lots of “Year in Review”articles, including several lists of best or favorite books of the year.  I devour those with interest, often thinking “Aw, I love that one too,” or “I intend to read that one soon.”  Then I started thinking back on the books I read this year, and I couldn’t remember very many.  What has happened to me?  Reading is and has been one of the great pleasures of my life, and my ability to recall plots, characters, and entire paragraphs has been one of my geeky talents since second grade.  Now I’m not sure what I read as recently as October. Stress?

Anyway, I just finished Don Wallace’s charming memoir, The French House, a book that makes me wish that I could hang out with the author and his wife and go surfing and have picnics and drink wine.  Thinking of that memoir reminds me of the other memoir that I do recall reading this year:  Consider the Oyster by M.F.K Fisher.   I feel the same way about Fisher that I do about Wallace in that I would have loved to have dinner and lively conversation with her.  Before Wallace, I finally read The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles simply because it had been on my shelf for years.  I could not put it down once I began, but Continue reading “What did I read? I don’t recall…”

Big Black and Beautiful

So proud of my brother-in-law! Here are some thoughts on his big, chewy, yummy Petite Sirah. And he’s sold out of his Zin (my favorite)!

SOIF

Black, impenetrable crimson with staining lipstick edges.  Heady oak and cassis split the briar and sandpaper evenly between the volatility and obtuse fruit.  Mint and edgy AL, scrubbed SS and petrichor make for a Disraeli alignment of *black* and *bright*.  Holy wow this just is mind-boggling good PS.  not even gonna guess at the AL.  One of those things where I’m scared how high it might be, but at the same time am leg-humping it so hard I don’t care.  In the mouth, thick and unrelenting.  So dense and disgustingly concentrated, yet obfuscating the whole ‘Paso’ thing into tangible acid, fruit and concentration.  Here’s where it differs.  Huge banana-peel glycerin-ridden pineapple brilliance against a woody structure dripping in dark brown sugar and Liquid Smoke.  Everything feels so naturally de-riven and balanced.  Blistering tannins claw at everything sensory but never conceal the disgustingly rich fruit.  An almost ag-ed Napa Cab situation…

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some grateful applause

Since election day, I’ve been in a state of nervous agitation on top of being unusually busy with work and home duties.  Happily, my Thanksgiving break starts today, and I’d like to start it off by applauding some smart, courageous, and creative people I know who are doing admirable and inspiring things. For example, one of the smartest women I know just sold her house, loaded up her young children, and hit the road in search of “where she really wants to live.” Quite a bold move! A friend from high school is serving as the Regional Board Chair for the Anti-Defamation League in Los Angeles. She’s fighting bigotry and championing women.  A former colleague– a most excellent English teacher, counselor, and yearbook adviser– opened her own exercise studio with her sister.  I’m extremely proud of her because I know that opening a dance studio has long been her dream, and she is working hard and taking risks to make it happen.  Then there is this astounding intellectual endeavor co-written by the mother of a former student!  I knew that Philippa was accomplished and brilliant, but to create a play like Margaret of Anjou is something so original and audacious that my jaw drops.  I’m finding comfort in knowing that brave, smart women are daring to try new ventures and work for themselves and others.  So I salute all of us: those working to design new lives, art, or businesses, and those of us working to keep up with laundry, weeds, and essays.  Keep fighting the good fight.

 

Fifteen

We recently celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary, and I am still astonished that we have been married so long.  No, not because we don’t get along, but because the time has passed so quickly.  As a later-in-life bride, I feel like we’ve been married two to maybe six years.  Five, I can believe.  Ten, not so much, and certainly not fifteen.  Yet we were married in 2001, so that makes 15!

Many things in our life reflect the passing of time. We’ve gained weight, and our hair tends to sparkle more in the sunshine. Our house looks very different from the yellow, transite covered box we moved into, and both the front and back yards are completely free of the lawns we inherited.  We started our married life with two cats: a tabby and a super fluffy masked Black and white.  While we still have a tabby and a tuxedo, they are not the kitties who came with the marriage.  The “older” generation of our family now consists only of our two moms and one uncle on each side.

All these experiences and changes make for a busy and satisfying life. So, why am I so mystified that fifteen years have passed?  Maybe it’s because the feelings haven’t changed as much as everything else, and we’re still stumbling through a happy marriage.