Spring blues

S’s been gone for three days on a sailing regatta with the BHS team. We’re missing her, including Tasha, who’s never quite herself when S’s gone.

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This was the regatta that the BHS sailing team hosted last month here in Eagle Harbor. It was a rare bright day, so I watched for a while from Pritchard Park.

It’s been a cold, rainy spring, the wettest on record. It’s been a challenging time for many reasons, full of wakefulness in the wee hours of the morning. Latest book finished this way: Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot.

G and P are off to Boston for awhile; we went to a surprise party for them on the 7:05 crossing this morning. When the boat’s almost empty, ferry parties are perfect in some ways–no one has to host, and there’s a clearly-defined end when external forces prompt you to say goodbye to the departing ones.

 

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Two happy things

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Christmas Corgi! Tasha got one of her Christmas presents early, a super-soft coat she’s not entirely sure about; she sits still in it, and minces carefully rather than running. It cracks me up–she’s like a little girl in a new fancy dress, afraid to move and spoil the effect.

The Seattle Sounders won the MLS cup! It was quite a game, decided in the end by penalty kicks, which amps the tension and subsequent yells of pride and disappointment. I even had a proxy cheering in the stands there in Toronto, student J. Someone should make a documentary on this season–there’s a lot of dramatic possibility. At one point, the Sounders were second to last in the Western conference, star player Clint Dempsey had an irregular heartbeat and couldn’t play the rest of the season, new star player Nico Lodeiro came on board, head coach Sigi Schmid was fired, the team rallied under new head coach Brian Schmetzer, they turned the season around, and in the end, won the Major League Soccer cup for 2016. It’s been called “the wildest season in MLS soccer” (Will Parchman).

I like the way the team is a microcosm of social liberal values in action; a confirmation that individual liberty requires a level of social justice, in which the good of the community is directly increased by supporting the individual.

We see this in the way the team is comprised of players from many different countries, working together in the service of something bigger than national identity.

MLS regulations permit teams to name eight players from outside of the United States in their rosters. However, this limit can be exceeded by trading international slots with another MLS team, or if one or more of the overseas players is a refugee or has permanent residency rights in the USA.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Seattle_Sounders_FC_players

International players regularly on the Sounders’ field include: Osvaldo Alonso from Cuba, Alvaro Fernandez and Nicolas Lodeiro from Uruguay, Oneil Fisher from Jamaica, Eric Friberg from Sweden, Andreas Ivanschitz from Austria, Joevin Jones from Trinidad and Tobago, Tyrone Mears from England, Roman Torres from Panama, Nelson Valdez from Paraguay, and keeper Stefan Frei from Switzerland.

When helping international players adjust to life in the US, “There is kind of a standard of care you could say,” said FC Dallas technical director Fernando Blavijo.

“Teams realize that players are their biggest asset,” said Richard Motzkin, an agent. “You should take care of your most important assets and in that vein, setting up systems to help facilitate those transitions are important.”

And so we see that this is not bleeding-heart liberalism; this is action steered by compassion that is ultimately good for the organization–it is liberalism in the sense of largeness of vision, an understanding that putting resources toward individuals who need those resources will, in the end, benefit the large organization.

 

 

Family photos

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A surprisingly bright October morning at Fay Bainbridge with a fabulously talented photographer friend = family pictures to share!

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The family picture wall in our house is full of the kids as babies and really young children. Photos can be a sort of stagnant story we tell ourselves, and it’s time to update the visual story.

Part mythology, part mirror, portrait photographs have the potential not only to capture a particular moment, but also to show us who we are.

I’ve been reading and analyzing Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray with my seniors, so a portrait’s potential symbolism has been on my mind.

Some of K’s senior photos! We love this beautiful person so very much.

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Photo credit: M. W. at http://www.falafelandthebee.com 

 

Spring Break 2016

K turned 18!

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Here we are on our way to hear Stile Antico, a UK vocal ensemble specializing in Renaissance music. It was luminous, rich, precise, enchanting; deserving of every laudatory review I’d seen beforehand. The group comes from Cambridge and Oxford; having begun their training in the choral programs there, the 12 singers perform with no accompaniment and no director. The program focused on the music of Shakespeare’s era–very little Shakespearean text was contemporaneously set to music, so the singers wove spoken-word history lessons on William Byrd, the death of Prince Henry Stuart and the subsequent flood of music composed in requiem, and other items of interest in between their numbers.

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A. created a hidden fairy house in the wild corner of the back yard.

All three kids had dog-sitting or dog-walking jobs during spring break.

I took Tolstoy to heart:  “Rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.”

 

The End of December

 

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The Bloedel Reserve held a lantern-lit Solstice walk; the women’s chamber choir K and I sing with stood beneath a giant cedar and sang as the procession crossed the meadow and then again as the procession exited the woods near the manor house. My favorite canon in the solstice songbook P put together is this:

Though my soul may set in darkness

It will rise in perfect light.

I have loved the stars too fondly

To be fearful of the night.

(Music attributed to Joseph Haydn and text from “The Old Astronomer” by Sarah Williams–you can hear a recording here.)

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Christmas Eve day games.

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And Christmas dinner. B’s dad made the wooden bowl holding the centerpiece. S made the individual Beef Wellingtons (out of this world). K made the kolcannon (also really delicious!).

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S’s Havisham-esque bûche de Noël, filled with whipped cream, slivered almonds, Nutella, and marzipan bugs. The best rotting log I’ve ever tasted! Look at these darling marzipan gnomes:2015-12-24 18.06.16

Two nonfiction book recommendations: How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds by John Powell and Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth by Lee Jackson. I read the first in the waiting room while K was getting her wisdom teeth out on the 22nd  (it was one of her Christmas presents). The second was a present from B and I devoured it in a couple of days–Victorian London is a fascinating subject; many reformers (including one primary figure, Lord Ashley) made gains in areas that still merit attention: the treatment of the mentally ill, the vast difference in living quarters and standards between the wealthy and the poor, overcoming political inertia to alleviate the suffering of human beings.

Holidays

It’s Winter Break!

Someone dropped off a bouquet of red and white tulips at my house; I wasn’t home and K answered the door. She didn’t recognize the person and there was no card. Thank you, bestower of beautiful flowers.

On Thursday, one of my past students dropped by to catch up, surprising me as I was re-arranging a bookshelf while my 9th graders watched To Kill a Mockingbird. After he left, the kids were curious about who the visitor was. I told them that they needed to do two things: grow up to be as curious and hard-working as T, and come back to see me after graduating. 🙂

I’m massively proud of students like him, and of my Feminist Forum kids.

On Friday after the final bell rang, students streamed out of the buildings–except for the 20 or so students attending the club I facilitate. There were several students home from college who dropped in to participate, and not until 4:30 did the discussion break with students saying, “I really should get going…”

I walked home shortly after that to a household of teenagers and their friends, gave them the snacks I’d accumulated in my classroom over the course of the day, and retired to my chamber to let a little silence soak in before taking K to a voice lesson.

A few hours later, the whole family went to see Star Wars. Standing in line, we realized the 8:30 showing was the high schoolers’ choice–there were nearly 30 of my former and current students in attendance.

I was strongly reminded of standing in line at International Cinema at college, attending with roommates and greeting various classmates and professors in the audience as well. There is something very healthy about seeing people out of their regular context, a re-affirmation of roles (I got to raise my eyebrows and smilingly say “J! Language!” to a former student using profanity in the public space) and at the same time, a display of additional sides to the complex human beings we interact with.

I’ve got 15 days of vacation, counting from now, and I’m looking forward to more outside time, more time to make music, more time to give life to the other sides of myself that make a whole vibrant person.

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Yesterday we walked into A’s bedroom and found Tasha lounging with her friends.

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We have an open fireplace but no mantle above it; K had the bright idea of hanging our stockings here.

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Gingerbread houses–S’s has an indoor pond! I started to make a wall for a log cabin out of pretzel sticks and icing. I wasn’t patient enough; it sagged in the middle and then I was hungry and that was the end of mine.

 

Thanksgiving

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S, B, and I ran BI’s Turkey Trot this morning (my 1st official 5K!).

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Thanksgiving dinner with most of the Zs, using C’s inherited china.

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The sound of a swollen
Mountain stream rapidly rushing
Makes one know
How very quickly life itself
Is pressed along its course.

– Saigyo (1118-1190)