Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Day

It’s soon to be Halloween. Doors are being decorated in the middle school, costumes planned, skits created, gooey brains flung onto the ceiling.


Gooey brains.

Created out of some sort of slime putty designed to please children and peeve adults.

On the ceiling.

On the sixteen-eighteen foot ceiling.

Flung there by a holiday-thrilled eleven year old who just haaaaadddd to see if it would stick.

It did.

Who knew goo possessed quite that extreme an adhesive quality?

Helping get that down with the assistance of two yardsticks lashed together with booktape with a bent wire coat hanger taped to the end was how the day began.

From there I moved into a lesson on the proper use of semi-colons.

Then research techniques and properly citing an article from an online database using MLA formatting.

After this, a class with seventh grade on the connections between the corporal works of mercy, the basic principles of Catholic Social Teaching, and the moral vision we are called to as people of faith. One kid said, “But it’s just a vision. It may or may not happen…depending on our choices…and it won’t happen without us taking action… If we want it, we need to be the ones to do it...it isn’t enough to just want it.” Amen.

From brains on the ceiling to working with kids toward the realization of the glory of God where, as my students distilled it, “everyone has enough, everyone is safe, and everyone knows themselves as loved.”

My days

are never



Friday, October 24, 2008


From RevGals... it's the Friday Five!

Tell us about the five favorite places you have lived in your lifetime. What did you like? What kind of place was it?

1. Don't remember much about it, but my parents brought me home to a barn. Always makes a fun intro line when writing one's life story. They, we, lived in half a renovated barn for the first four years of my life--complete with cows that bedded down in the basement.

2. Madison, WI for Grad School. Lake Mendota, the Terrace, the farmer's market, liberal, friendly Midwestern people, university culture, it was a two year GIFT to live there and have had the friends I had then. I learned much, loved much, and grew much. Would move back in a tick.

3. Grand Coteau, LA-- 1200 people, a love affair with food, beauty heaped upon beauty, sweet olive trees that are SURELY a foretaste of heaven's perfume when they bloom, seventeen shades of green I counted one day while sitting on the gallery of the school there--and I never turned my head. Friendly people, kind, generous people..

4. NYC NYC NYC. LOVE the City. People watching, pavement pounding, sensory delight, sometimes sensory offense, the world is walking by...

5. I've lived too in Cambridge, MA, Newton, MA, Chicago, Milwaukee, and four or five cities in OH. BUT, if I were to pick a place I wish I had/will live... several things come to mind. A houseboat on the Mississippi; Bath, England; a treehouse like the Swiss Family Robinson; SanFrancisco; and my ultimate fantasy...a small house in Maine, overlooking the Atlantic--one bedroom, one library/study/living room, and a kitchen large enough for a table to eat on, a wingback to read in, and space to have company while I cooked. Oh, I could describe this house for pages and pages.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Honey Sweet Sounds

I had a chance to hear the group Sweet Honey in the Rock this afternoon-- it was an amazing experience! I have never watched and heard people sing so...so...thoroughly!! It was simply spectacular and stunningly beautiful to watch the sound come to life in the whole body of the woman singing. Yes...that's it...sound coming to life.

Singing with It All
(after hearing Sweet Honey in the Rock)

I’m talking shoulders
dipping and swinging,
in a harmonious lovely
arrangement with hands
at the end of arms that
never end their reach
for the contours of the refrain.

I mean hips that curve
left and right with the bends
in the wide sweeping range
of vocalized rivers
pouring their currents
of sound over sound
down the bed of my soul.

I’m thinking of legs
that know how to step,
how to stand, how to flex,
how to strut, how to strengthen
and ground the sound
in the here, the now,
the reality of presence.

I’m hearing the voices
that sing with it all,
with every bit of beauty
that is the shape, and the sound,
and the feel, and the fullness
of women in song.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Flipping for Friday Fives

The Friday Five from RevGals...

1) When was the last time you flipped a coin or even saw one flipped in person?

Flipped one today, actually, to solve a gripe...and taught a whole new generation the art of the thumb-flick flip. My students were quite impressed, thank you very much. I learned it from my father as a little girl. Spinning it on the table top too.

2) Do you have any foreign coins in your house? If so, where are they from?

I carry a two peso coin in my wallet to remind me of Mexico and a 20 pence piece to remind me of England. My grandmother had a neat habit of buying a small box when she travelled and would put a coin from the country in the box to help her remember where it was from and the particular trip.

3) A penny saved is a penny earned, they say. But let's get serious. Is there a special place in heaven for pennies, or do you think they'll find a special place in, well, the other place?

Pennies are cash and a hundred of them equals a buck. Nothing wrong with pennies.

4) How much did you get from the tooth fairy when you were a child? and if you have children of your own, do they get coins, or paper money? (I hear there may be some inflation.)

I seem to remember a quarter...my tooth would be wrapped up in a kleenex/scotch tape packet and the coin would be delivered in the same fashion.

5) Did anyone in your household collect the state quarters? And did anyone in your household manage to sustain the interest required to stick with it?

Nope. BUT, used them as a point of research for the kids today. What state quarter carries an image of Helen Keller?!

Monday, October 13, 2008

An Experiment Gone Right

I have posted before about the pleasures of various meals--the creating of them, the eating of them... I suppose in more than one way, it feeds my poetic soul to experience something with as many senses as possible. Writing somehow has become another one of them. Another way of experiencing, nearly another sense all together--to infuse with expression and therefore experience at another level.

It is with that in mind that I find myself wanting to write about the sudden inspiration that came to me as I crossed an avenue while out on a wander this afternoon. I solved a problem, or at least self-proposed a solution, within the course of moving about fifteen steps East to West. With ambulances sounding uptown, cabs honking downtown and an argument ensuing, and business people whisking by, folded newspapers brushing my sleeves, my mind was suddenly filled with orange juice, butter, cinnamon, just enough sugar to make a syrup, and apples. Instead of fumes, I was already smelling the sweet heady steam of granny smiths in a skillet that would be layered on top of an apple crisp I had made for someone's birthday dessert. The Macintosh apples I had used shrank considerably in the cooking process and something needed to be added. How to make more without undoing?

I bought five Grannies on the way home, sliced them with skin on straight from the whole apple, heated the skillet with the butter, orange juice, and cinnamon, added the apples, sprinkled sugar on top, and let chemistry work her wonder. It smelled great, tasted wonderful (a cook must sample, right?), and filled up the top with lovely, syrupy, appley, al dente, slices of Fall.

I think I need to get out more often.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


The roof was gone at Mass today. And, in a sense, it was a storm that did it—a storm of glory in the form of song that pushed against the walls, against the roof, against the heart, and could not be contained. The roof was simply raised up with the power of the notes, the cataract of singing, the passion of praise and wonder and desire and hope. I was looking past the stations, past the carved relief, beyond the stained glass and the gathering of apostles, beyond the Spirit descending, beyond the rafters and straight out into the blue of a high fall day. I was up there…my heart was freed from boundary and any sort of limitation…I was everywhere…with friends in Mexico, in the halls with my students, in Argentina with another friend, in Louisiana, with a friend whose father is dying, with my own father, with the Welcome Table just downstairs…

Each song today was one the choir had done before. But, it was one of those days when I can imagine God grinning and saying, “Sing to me, my people! Set yourself free.”

Let my tears say Amen!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

An apple for the students

It was not an easy week at work. It was not an easy week at work but the day is sunny today. It was not an easy week at work, but the day is sunny today and I have on rainbow colored socks as I write. It was not an easy week at work, but the day is sunny today and I have on rainbow socks as I write in an empty library that reminds me that “some nonsense about sense continually intervenes.” (Robert Louis Stevenson on art.)

Who would have thought that in the middle of Manhattan the sense I sought, the meaning or fundamental motivation, for the week I had, would be expressed in terms of trees.

After school one day, I found a group of kids in the seventh grade locker area. They were…well… being twelve, being goofy, being girls at the end of a day. This included a pair of them donning their volleyball kneepads like slippers and using the padding to spring around on the polished wooden floors. I passed them by, stopped, turned, and asked the patently obvious to which they answered the equally clear.

I left them with a sigh to get on the elevator. Before the door opened, I heard a chorus of voices call out, asking “Are weeeee the apples of your eye???” I turned back around the corner and see all of the kids from the locker room hamming around like clowns and yes, wearing kneepads on their feet.

What could I answer but the truth. “Forget apples. Y’all are the whole orchard.”

ConEdison could have lit a couple of blocks with the wattage of their smiles.

Yes, that is the motivation for troubling weeks. It’s the motivation for the good weeks, too. God and God and God. And the chance to tell these kids that they are loved.