Category Archives: every day life

The light it speaks

Of spring.

Even before we’ve tinkered with our clocks, the light speaks of spring. Soft and democratic, it offers its glow wherever it falls, instilling a sense of hope.

Is this different from “radical hope” — something I’ve read a lot about since November 2016? Radical hope galvanizes. Forces us to say ‘yes’ to things, because saying ‘no’ is not enough (Naomi Klein).

Radical hope is an act of courage (Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark). Not for the faint of heart. Solnit writes, “Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists.”

Terry Patten writes in A New Republic of the Heart that “a radical robust hope lies on the other side of despair. It can energize and sustain us, inspire our highest capacities, make us a powerful positive force … and help us address our inconceivably vast challenges.”

Cynicism is easy. Hope takes work, builds community, etc. These are necessary reminders. Medicinal, even.

But yesterday offered a less dynamic sense of hope. Nothing catapulting or conspiring. Soft and inviting, it offered a whisper of spring.

Even when a slow-poke cocker spaniel (on a retractable leash no less), forced Finn and me to walk a stretch of Route 9 at rush hour, I was not diminished.

We negotiated past old and crusty piles of snow. Avoided the paper refuse that might house irresistible tidbits. The roar coming at us. Two tons of steel intent on getting to work. Car after car with their threads of exhaust. I remained open. Open to the assaulting noise. Open to vulnerability — aware of the risk — a slip here riskier than elsewhere.

Maybe because it was warmer yesterday, maybe because February really is the month when the turning of season makes itself felt, but in that motion and noise and ever present possibility of calamity, there was hope.

It came unbidden. Full of promise. Announcing itself with a flutter. Quietly.

Where does hope reside for you these days? Is it something you have to work at? If so, how do you do that?

Real ID, anyone?

Raise your hand if you haven’t seen your Social Security card in a while. It’d been decades for me and it never mattered. Until now.

Bday coming — license renewal year. The law’s changed. I could renew the standard way or provide additional proofs of identity to obtain a “Real ID.” The Real ID would allow me to continue to travel without a passport domestically.

None of the alternative proofs of my Social Security number were available to me. My last W-2 dates back a few years (they want a recent one). Our 1099’s are in K’s name and by the way, only reveal the last four digits of his SSN. Correspondence from SSA only reveals last four digits of my SSN, too.

So, off I went to the Social Security Administration in Waltham last week to apply for a new card. A bundle of papers culled from all over the house. My passport.

There was just one wrinkle. Passport was not enough. A birth certificate would be convincing, but when I was eight, she whispered, my mother changed my name. She threw an additional “r” into ‘Deidre,’ making me ever after ‘Deirdre.’ My birth certificate is wrong.

Notice how I buried that? After holding for 25 minutes the day before and then talking to a super nice guy for 25 minutes, I was counseled to characterize the discrepancy as a misspelling. Tired parents. Careless clerk. Avoid the words, ‘name change.’ The truth is, my mother misspelled my name repeatedly throughout my life, so it wasn’t a stretch to assert (which matters only because I’m a terrible liar). Did she make the change officially? This would’ve been the year JFK was killed. Schenectady County. I have no idea, but somehow I doubted it and clearly there wasn’t time to find out. I certainly didn’t have time to petition a court myself in the event she hadn’t bothered.

I brought an electric bill addressed to ‘Deidre’ to show that it was a common mistake.

Meanwhile, I was fairly certain that I’d applied for my SSN at the time of my first real job — age 15, mother’s helper. If so, no problem.

I arrived at 10:00 to a room full of fellow applicants. I counted a dozen. I hadn’t realized until arriving that the office closed at noon on Wednesdays. Would I make it?

A barrel chested man in uniform, 6’3″ at least, assured me that my queue number would be preserved if I had to return the next day. Okay, that let me relax.

So did recognizing how low the stakes were for me. This is only about being able to leave my passport home when I fly to Boulder or LA. I wasn’t wrestling with immigration or disability payments or Medicare.

Many windows were closed — whether because of the government shutdown or as a matter of course, I didn’t know. People kept flowing in, including an elderly Chinese couple. She could barely walk and relied heavily on her husband for stability.

I kept a head count going. Two people were accompanying other people. Good! One was a no-show. Good! I was beginning to think I’d make it.

Meanwhile, the officer was tracking everything, too. When a number was called out to no response, he repeated the number in Spanish and sure enough up popped two Hispanic men. The officer added a greeting and more information. Fluently.

Time ticked by. I sunk into the vacancy of waiting mind, which is a lot like resting. Phone untouched. The elderly Chinese man walked his wife to the restroom, then waited outside. His number was called before she finished, so the officer took up waiting in his place. When she emerged, he offered his arm and spoke a few syllables to her in Chinese. Bending down. Speaking softly.

I was blown away.

My number came up! I had a 20 dollar bill in my pocket (lunch money?) to offer the guy at window eight in case he was working without pay (he wasn’t). He was affable. Efficient. I couldn’t believe my luck. He predicted the new card would come well in advance of the officially stated two weeks.

It arrived in three business days.

And so, I trundled off to the RMV in Watertown this morning. It was the usual hive of activity but unlike other years they had a cadre of women previewing applications, scribbling approvals, expediting the line. I was out of there in a half an hour.

Blown away. Again.

And in case that isn’t enough: I sold a quilt on etsy last night! And at midnight I padded downstairs for the ninth search for the missing checkbook (think: recent robberies and a well-meaning attempt to protect our assets) AND FOUND IT! And in case all that isn’t enough: after the aide who was FINALLY going to start up in Salem yesterday bailed and I was starting to feel like the matter would never be resolved for my poor sister, a new one was hired on this morning! Just like that!

Whew. I need to look at astrology and see what’s happening up there.

 

 

 

Pix and captions Thursday

After run to SSA in Waltham, stopped at Russo’s — grocery extraordinaire (and cheap). It was me and the Sicilian widows and old Chinese ladies.

Love me some baby bok choy and black rice.

Still no spare key!

For some reason, lately I’m wanting to turn bits of patchwork into pouches.

Fucking hilarious. On Netflix.

The road today. Some puddles hiding sheets of ice.

Tuesday in 2019

A blissfully quiet day. The predicted storm turned out to be a dusting and no more. Finn is out with Handsome Dog Walker. Coffee is in the larder after an early morning grocery run. My sister will see a new PT today. Mike.

K is thankfully not scheduled to fly anywhere anytime soon. “WTF?” is all I’ll say to the shutdown and to the networks who seem to have unanimously decided to air the gasbag’s gaslighting this evening.

I am making revisions to the text, rereading journal entries from when C was a baby, and writing new scenes for the novel.

A pile of ironing awaits. Couldn’t stay awake for Maddow last night, so I’ll watch her as I press.

Chicken stock cooling on the stove. The whole downstairs smells of its savory goodness.

Transitions

One low point: learning that my sister’s aide quit and that her long time case worker has assigned my sister to someone else.

One balancing point: reading the words, “we refrain from protecting them from the consequences of their actions.”

Three high points: party goer who has been studying racial inequity for twenty years saying, “and that’s why I enjoy your blog so much,” then walking home from Solstice gathering in the rain feeling oh so grounded and grateful and finally, an hour later, K returning from China.

What an eight days

Was still awake when K’s alarm went off at five. Ugh. From studying maps of LA and Oroville (to track the progress of the fires), to dispiriting ongoing voter suppression news (it is just the GOP norm now), to the firing of Sessions, I found myself spacing out about appointments and social engagements this week and wondering what overwhelm morphs into. Not despair, I hope.

(Not despair, I hope?)

And what of Mueller? Was he strategic enough to withstand this level of obstruction? Will we be denied? Reading the first linked article below constituted a highlight this week because it credibly outlines why Mueller is likely poised to finish his investigation.

And who thinks our depraved President only went to Paris to meet with Putin? The international shame of him provides a whole other order of gloom.

So I went to a protest. The “red line” one. Not the one in Boston because I was tired. Too much trouble for democracy? Well, maybe. The Needham gathering, though small, offered a shared sense of outrage and worry and could be reached by car without hassle. Get well cards to Ruth Bader Ginsburg were circulated.

Tuesday I worked the polls. Our very civilized polls. It was busy — I gather from old timers, busier than normal.

A pleasant (for a change) visit to Salem came at the end of the week — very little traffic and a cleaner apartment than usual helped (PCA Maria #1 is back, to our shared relief). Doing the Times puzzle together was good, too (the sharing of it. Not this week’s puzzle!)

The North Shore visit came a week after one to K’s father in the nursing home where he is safe and well cared for and nevertheless restless and lonely.

Raking leaves provides ballast. Sanity. Tidying a closet, I can handle. Deciding which project to finish, not so much.

Here’s what I am looking forward to (and then I want to hear what YOU are looking forward to):

News that Grace and family are safe and their property untouched by fire;

The kids coming home for Christmas;

The first snowfall;

The indictments of Trump’s family and Sean Hannity;

The lentil soup I’m gonna make tonight;

Reading the next four hours and 28 minutes (gotta love kindle!) of “A Gentleman in Moscow,” which I am really enjoying.

Reading three articles about the use of dialogue in fiction;

A time when politics does not enter the dialogue here.

How about you?

Article by Ben Wittes: It’s Probably Too Late to Stop Mueller.

P.S. because of the overwhelm, I didn’t finish the draft post entitled “Savor a Little” in which I intended to lay out the impressive Democratic wins from the midterms — all there is to celebrate and feel terrific about. So, I’ll just leave you with this Washington Post article.

Beets and radishes

Anyone who camps knows how even the most pedestrian meal is enhanced to a near-miraculous degree after a day in the wilderness. It happens all the time. “How can a bowl of pasta with canned sauce and chopped zucchini taste so good,” you wonder. And yet it does.

The visit to Salem was tense and then tenser. We didn’t manage to capture the cat. The aide had to leave a full hour earlier than expected. Plans had to be abandoned, limitations accepted. But before we got there, a fair amount of hostility was expressed. I spent a lot of time walking around the building, sort of wishing I smoked.

My sister blamed her temper on a transiting Mars / natal Sun conjunction and pretty much everything else on me.

She kept telling me to sit down and to stop moving. I kept suggesting that it might be time to put some pants on. The aide cleaned the kitchen. Then the bathroom.

My wish to get something done collided with my sister’s refusal to move. It’s often this way.

It’s a kind of wilderness, really — and I think it made the salad I made after getting home taste ridiculously good.

The gorgeous food blog, Harvest and Honey, inspired the choice of ingredients.

With the sweet, candy-like beets, the smooth and creamy avocado, plus a little goat cheese, chopped scallion, sliced radish and a handful of micro greens, it was beyond delicious.

Recipe (you hardly need one!)

1 large beet, roasted, peeled and diced*

1/2 scallion chopped, including white end

1 radish, sliced thin

1 1/2 Tbs goat cheese

Handful of micro greens

Dress with a tangy mustard vinaigrette (loaded with garlic).

* if you stow beets, post-roasting, in their foil wrappers in a large, unsealed zip lock bag, be very careful carrying the bag to the cutting board unless you want your kitchen to resemble a crime scene!