Sunday, October 27, 2019

By This Time Tomorrow

Sun’s not up yet.  It will be worse when I return.  Vague sense of dread that always anticipates a trip away from home.  I’m perfectly happy here just now.  Indeed, I’ll be perfectly happy over there as well.  But no matter how one tries you cannot maintain multiple primacies.  By this time tomorrow I’ll be on my way. 

I want to have a good book for the flight.  Work is pressing, as always.  But nothing will require me to spend hours of prep for something on the flight.  I’d read a wonderful interview Maureen Dowd did with Patti Smith not long ago.  The latter mentioned, when asked what she was reading, that Susan Sontag had recommended she read more Germans.  Acting on that advice Patti lauded Hermann Broch’s, “The Death of Virgil.”  It’s over on the table there.  I’ll bring it with me tomorrow.

I tried to order a few other books Saturday morning, including some essays by Susan Sontag.  I needed an iron primarily, as my shirts are all wrinkled, but as long as I was on the site, I might as well get some books.  I had a book in the cart by each of the two new Nobel Laureates, Peter Handke and Olga Tokarczuk.  But Amazon wouldn’t guarantee delivery for any of it for earlier than Monday, and Monday’s when I’m off.

It must be rather cloudy outside.  It’s already seven in the morning at there isn’t a hint of light yet.  It’s on account of this, that they invited daylight savings time?  I’m imagining this house when I’m older.  Always considering what that will be like. There are rooms that haven't been built yet. Tomorrow morning then.  On that bus to Newark Liberty Airport.  But first you need to ride the bus under the Hudson, to change busses for another bus back under the Hudson, into Jersey.  I’m glad it's not for today.

Sunday, 10/27/19

Mugwort In a Sentence

My little brother’s gonna visit today.  He’s got his three-year-old son, my nephew Peter in-tow and they’ll leave from New Jersey at 11:00AM to get here around twelve-thirty.  My father and stepmother will arrive around that time as well.  It’s gorgeous outside.  This remarkable Indian summer is continuing on till nearly the end of October.

I suggest I’ll make burritos and head out to the market to get all the things I need.  At Mercer Farms I pulled in to get one of their key lime pies, which they had, but I grabbed an apple crisp instead.   The big, cheery guy with a cap and an orange shirt, who looks for all the world like the lion in “The Wizard of Oz,” pointed me to where they were on the counter.

My nephew is wonderful.  Wonder is what he brings.  Suddenly our attic fan, that you can turn on with a dial on the first floor is the most remarkable thing in the world.  He’s willing to consider the possibility of magic acorns and visiting Saturn.  He has a favorite color.  It is red.  He has a lunchbox. Of course he wants to go see the cows.  

My dad, my stepmom, they know their natural surroundings, better than I do.  The suet feeder will attract the woodpecker, she tells me and not long after I’m thrilled to see a downy woodpecker out there, doing just that.  “That’s all mugwort in there.”  Cool.  I don’t think I have ever used the word “mugwort” in a sentence but I will now, that I know I have a copse of it.  My dad spots a hickory tree, and confirms a sycamore when he finds the leaf.  But after that I want every tree and neither he or she can go tree by tree in the canopy.  My little brother, however, has an app, “Seek,” that lets him scan the leaf and soon we know that the saw toothed leaf here, was from an Elm.  My father and I downloaded the app immediately. 

Saturday 11/26/19

Back to An Open Drop

Parent-teachers day at the International School of Beijing allowed parents to go online and schedule ten- minute sessions with each of your kid’s teachers.  If you had two children in the school, as we did that meant you fourteen or more meetings to schedule.  Meeting usually started a few minutes late which was good because you were generally a few minutes late arriving at each subsequent meeting.  Generally my wife an I divided  to conquer before the end of those hectic days.

At Oakwood we’ve been invited to spend the day with our child visiting each of her classes with her.  All the parents will.  Most of the students are boarders so presumably they aren’t expecting a deluge.  It would never have worked in ISB.  They certainly didn’t do this when I attended Oakwood.  The only teacher I scheduled anything with was the counsellor.  Otherwise, I’ll need to speak with them on margins of the classes we’ll attend. 

Some of the teachers handle this new challenge better than others.  I’m imagining it as a teacher myself.  It would be impossible not to stilted.  If you play to the parents it's clear that whatever you’re doing has nothing to do with what normally happens.  If you ignore the parents and try to just carry on oblivious to the elephants in the room, it’s also disingenuous.  I was glad, with what I saw, in the main.

That afternoon my daughter had a home-volleyball game.  She’s been playing with the team every day this fall from 3-5:00PM.  But even though I’ve asked to attend games numerous times, I’ve been asked to stay away.  Today we get our seats in the bleachers and cheer on her squad.  They got off to a tough start.  The nearby Poughkeepsie Day School played well, passing consistently with a number of impressive players.  But the Oakwood gals took it back with three straight wins after an initial loss.  So proud to see my little girl out there, serving, passing, scoring. 

A dinner, out?  Yes.  No one wants to cook. Italian?  Sounds good.  We decide to try La Tavola in our own town which is supposed to be the spot  We managed to get a table at 6:30 on a Friday evening, but would need to sit three at a large bench that might also take three people as walk-ins.  And indeed, it was this tavola, the table itself that I wasn’t crazy about. I was up on a second floor with my back to an open drop to the first floor.  The darkness seemed to mask the dust.  The food was lovely and the wine was reasonably priced and well described.  But I think I need to try a different seat in this place next time.

Friday 10/25/19