Tuesday, March 31, 2009


For the first time in years I did not visit my father in Poland this winter. I don’t think he especially noted this. Perhaps the days of winter appear indistinguishable for him. It’s dreary in Poland then. Sometimes she comes, other times she does not...

I received in the mail today an invitation to the wedding of my closest Polish friends’ daughter. Not a big deal event, but still, an obviously important date. In three weeks.

The airfares are remarkable now. Possibly the cheapest since the time I traveled to the States in the 70s.

Should I go? For the week-end?

I’m about to embark next year on a supremely strenuous teaching schedule. So perhaps this is the good time to go?

It used to be that travel, like young love, provided a thrill that reverberated down to my gut. Not anymore. I have been kicked hard for my past trips (not the least – financially). So now I’m less adolescent about it and, therefore, less thoughtlessly excited.

It’s a shame. I remember the thrill of clicking “purchase.” Not anymore. Not anymore.

I’ll probably stay home.


Monday, March 30, 2009

bear arms and birds

He hits the tennis ball, his long arm swatting it from the side, bear-like. I hit back. The wily one against the powerful. He wins, of course. Put rabbit next to a bear – the forceful one wins. Always.

(not our secret court, and yet, there are the pines...)

I’m in blue jeans. For me, that’s concession to spring. I put away my very well worn beige-rosé cords. The ones that have the souvenir of a tumble this winter, on the path at Cinque Terre. A rip on the knee. Who needs to buy memories? So many cost nothing.

He has a meeting late this afternoon. (A fresh t-shirt, okay? How about it? Okay?)

I have a date with the Infusion Center staff again. A time to listen to the stories of others. A patient looks up – such nice flowers! -- she tells the nurse. Yes, from someone who just finished treatment. Six weeks, twice a day. We got to know him well. (I wonder if he misses the routine, or is he plain happy to be out of there?) In a stall not too far from mine, a man cannot stop talking about the basketball championships. Nurse stops by my unit. You want to speed it up, don’t you? Uh huh. Okay. Seven minutes and you’re out of here.

I bike home, up the hill in Shorewood, past the shrubs where birds scream during the day and then fall silent. My daughter tells me I have become obsessed with spotting birds. Me, bird watching? I can’t stand still long enough to spot birds.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

warm up

Sometimes I think of Ocean as just a warm up for the real thing. To keep dirt under my fingernails before the planting season. So that I’m ready and sharp when the moment comes.

And indeed, I have had long spells where I worked on the real thing (The Great Writing Project), grateful that I had had days, years even, of focusing my camera on an image and then writing about it. I felt sharp and ready.

At other times I wonder if my breaks from the real thing are too long. This has been one of the longest ones. I haven’t returned to The Great Writing Project since winter set in. And winter set in early this year.

With long breaks, Ocean becomes more than just dirt on my hands. It becomes central. If I crashed tomorrow, there would be some 80 pages of unfinished text and Ocean. That would be my life’s art.

Last night I returned to the old neighborhood. I had been cold for most of the afternoon (I was not ready for this return to dreary winter) and going up Old Sauk hill, I thought that really, the evening could not look any worse than this.


We sat around the table eating well and drinking equally well and eventually I forgot about the unpleasantness waiting for me outside.


As midnight approached someone kindly called a cab and I allowed myself to not look outside much. The driver took a long route for this very short distance, but I did not mind. There are times when closing your eyes to the world and letting someone else take over life for you is immensely pleasurable.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

staying warm

We had been told to expect the return of cold air. Those predictions are, unfortunately, almost always accurate.

I hear my daughters are enjoying cherry blossoms in DC. Me, I wake up to a cold, gray day.

Oh, to love gray! Ed tells me daily how great my hair looks. It’s a shortcut for him saying: long is good. Gray wisps are good. Don’t waste money going to Jason. I’m not convinced. I haven’t let Jason near my hair all this year and this retreat to what I feel is somewhere between hippie and unkempt makes me cringe. And yet I listen and half hope that Ed is sincere. Over and over: your hair looks gorgeous, your hair looks great. It’s like telling an alcoholic that mineral water tastes a hell of a lot better than the real stuff with the hope that eventually they’ll believe.

Gray skies, brown fields. Nothing green yet. Except for this. Fertilizer. Maybe cow manure – Ed tells me.


You want to play a game? He asks now, but he knows I do. Even though it is 29 degrees out there. Shirt, sweatshirt, wool coat, gloves. Not exactly tennis duds. But, I keep them all on. Yesterday I was blinded by the sun. Today, the air is fuzzy with the steam from our breath.

The tennis court is, as usual, empty. (even Madisonians would have trouble guessing where this is – I’m not sure anyone knows of its existence. Or cares. It’s well hidden behind tall pines. Needles lie in clumps on the green asphalt. Ed wants to sweep them off, but I find them charming.)


We volley the balls, Ed gets boastful, I chase missed balls. I’m warming up. Cheerfully even. We get a good hour and a half in before the gusts of wind remind me that we are to get snow tonight.

But, shortly after we finish playing, I’m cold again. You can only shake that kind of disgusted-with-this-winter-weather feeling by warming your insides. Like at your favorite bakery, where a family of bakers is putting out loaves of hot bread.



Friday, March 27, 2009

next day

You know how cool it is to wake up to a new day? I do. Winter grime, wiped away. Just like that. Oh, oops, hi there! Fancy seeing you like this!


It is a brisk day. Too brisk. I have no reason to go out and so I don’t. All that I need for a good day is at home. But Ed nudges me. Hard. I’ll buy you a latte!

That works. And indeed, I now note that, in spite of the chill, it is a bright day.


We pause for my latte – I linger over it, Ed dozes.


It’s almost evening. But we have our Wal-Mart rackets in Ed's car. We go to the tennis court and we volley balls back and forth until the shadows are long. My arm hurts from the effort. But we’re getting better. Things are getting better.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

adjusting to the inevitable

As discussions at work lead toward a resolution today (why do resolutions always involve more work?), I’m thinking to myself: I’m used to this. Stability and predictability? These are not my driving forces. I’ve never known either in my world of work (except for a brief while when, in Poland, I was employed by a textile factory during the summer: I could have played solitaire all my hours there and still my job would be waiting for me the next day). Yet, here I am. Employed and doing work I like. Even as times are tough. Even without tenure (unlike other profs, I have never been on a tenure track).

So I’m thinking – this is me: stressed but happily plodding along and so it shall continue. (Until the next hurdle.)

In this upbeat mode, I am posting a photo of my wonderful and esteemed colleagues. I ran into them as I scooted down Bascom Hill for an espresso fix. To me, they radiate joy. In the middle of a work day, there can be joy.


So long as you can look forward (not backward, never that!) and spring is ahead of you (never mind the expected blizzard this week-end), days are indeed fine.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Preoccupied with work issues again. None of them are easy. None of them are, for now, bloggable. But, I can say this – nor are they tragic (yet), in the way that an economic downturn can so quickly be tragic for some.

But then, I am very much a product of post-war Poland. Life’s not tragic until you or your loved ones kick the bucket.

Since my mind is on work and since I cannot write much about it, I’ll leave you with a photo of the loaf of bread I used for dinner. From my favorite bread baker, of course.

You could say that indeed, even as I blog, I am very much aware of who butters my bread.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

snapshots from a rainy day

Perhaps not snapshots. I can’t offer much on a day when work dominated most waking hours. Initially, I thought I’d ride my bike to campus (for the first time in ’09!) and then the rain wiped that idea and placed it right in the gutter.

I returned home late. The light was fading, the rain kept falling. I looked out on a city sidewalk, wet and somewhat mellowed by evening light.


And still, in the off minutes when my thoughts strayed from school issues (and, in the course of a day, my thoughts often stray), I couldn’t help but think about people who find joy in being with someone else. Not alone, but with someone else.


Monday, March 23, 2009


For reasons of birth and nothing more than that, and with no dire consequence that I can think of, I was told not too long ago that my constitution is deficient in small detail and so I am in need of occasional infusions of the missing element. In other words, I need a coctail. Of sorts.

I like to believe that I would manage in life without special anything – that I would be the caregiver rather than the care receiver. And in the calm period where no one needs care, I would go to places where care isn’t even available. Tough Polish peasant stock.

Maybe. But in the meantime, just in case, I give in to what the doc orders.

If you’ve ever been in an infusion place (they are within hospitals), you’ll see that they’re much like hairdressers. There are customers who need to talk about details of their lives and a staff who is forced to listen. Loneliness does not hide its face in rooms where coctails drip very very slowly.

But it is, overall, a quiet place (when no one is opting for the TV) and so you can get work done in the hours that you need to be sitting still. Or, you can contemplate your lot in life. From postwar Poland, to an infusion center in Madison, Wisconsin...

Or you can listen to the wisps of other people’s lives, easily passed to you through the thin fabric of the curtain separating you from the rest of the world.

It’s a sleepy place where people are dripped closer to health.

Several hours later, I’m out and heading toward a café, where I meet up with a person infused alright. With love. I think that watching love sprout is remarkably exhilarating. It’s a shame that so much of it stays hidden from private view.

Or maybe we’re just not used to looking around. Maybe we avert our eyes.

I look up, waiting for my friend, the one infused with love. There she is. See the tip of her blond head? Oh, but wait, there’s another couple in love. Wow. It’s everywhere.


Ah spring! I love you so!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

spring spin

I never stopped. Is there a reward for a crazy plunge from one thing to another until you have no more muscle left in you?

The morning was hardly exhilarating. I cleaned the condo. Unremarkable.

But after, it was all about the outdoors. I took out my freshly spiffed up bike and pedaled over to Ed’s farmette. A 2009 first. Very brown out there, on the path, sure, but still, mightn’t one imagine that we’re at the cusp of something brighter? (Never mind that there still are patches of snow from the previous season.)


It doesn’t end there. I attacked Ed’s raspberry patch. And the bamboo patch. And the flower beds we tried to create last year in between fields of weed.

Ed was in his element. Give him some fallen brush and spent raspberry stalks and he’ll bring out his ancient John Deere and ride like a person who never can fathom his luck at living here, rather than, say, in New York.


The afternoon fades. We take out Wal-Mart tennis gear and head for the local park.

Your back hand? It needs a little effort.
(Earlier, we watched U-Tubes with backhand tutorials. Obviously it didn’t help me. Or, is it that it’s my second day out on the courts?)
My serve puts the ball right where it’s easy. So, why aren’t you rallying to the task?

And thus we play until dusk.

When my legs, arms, neck, and back can't take it anymore, we call it quits, get huge burritos at Chipotle's and go home.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

training for spring

The list of “things that absolutely have to be done today” is long. I’d been away the past few week-ends and now I'm paying my dues. Chores.

Most everything on the list is boring: get new glasses so that I can see my lecture notes in class, clean bike from winter hiatus, find sturdy, cheap but also cool looking pair of jeans for upcoming hiking trip in late spring, get carpet cleaner for grape juice spilt more than two weeks ago, get batteries for Ed’s digital calipers, etc.

Worse, the list requires two stops: at a mall and at Wal-Mart. Which is the bigger devil? Hard to choose. Especially since it’s beautiful outside on this day! Sunny, warm…

But, slowly I gain inspiration. The jeans shopping? No, not boring. It anticipates the adventure ahead.


The glasses? Well, what can I say. I can see now.

While at the mall, we stop at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Ed thinks we should try to pick up a game of tennis. I note that we already hike, kayak and bike in the summer, but I’m willing to throw in tossing a ball over the net, if we accept the premise that I haven’t played tennis since I was thirteen. Really.

And now it is time for The Dreadful Wal-Mart. I profoundly dislike the store for any number of reasons. But, with Ed, life sooner or later directs us to Wal-Mart. And today, we fill a cart. Bike lock, batteries, Burpees seeds (way too many packets)…


…lime remover, Cascade. And a notebook and fizzy water. And finally, we are done. It is, by all accounts, evening. Close to six.

Want to hit a few?

We head out to the courts in the park just steps away from my condo.


We’re not dressed for it. We look ridiculous. We pick a court at the very end, away from the others and still, people pass, pause, enjoying the sight of tennis on this warm (still in the 60s!) day.

The guy at the store said tennis comes back to you, sort of like bike riding. But I never had it! Two or three times in my youth does not count! And still, it is a thrill: we volley some, lose most, and through it all, I am aware that the sun is up and I am warm and really, life is not too bad.

Sorry! I shout again as I mess up a return.
Don’t say that! No one says sorry.
What do guys say when they miss?
Oh. You don’t say fuck when you miss.
It’s not polite in mixed company.
(later) Sorry!
Don’t say that!
Oh, sorry, I cant help it!

And so it continued until one of us runs out of steam.

At the condo parking lot, we are greeted by a pack of red breasted birds.


And to think this is just the beginning of the good seasons!

Friday, March 20, 2009

falling into spring

Progress. One day builds on the next. That’s the theory.

I’m not sure it’s a very supportable theory. So many days are complete puzzlers. You wonder afterward -- what the hell was that all about?

Something about my background leads me to not like to dwell on the unfortunate events that mess with our progress. Life throws you a misguided pitch? Okay. Let’s think about what happens next.

Ed and I went to Brewster, New York so that art that belonged to him would not be in storage in Brewster, New York, but in Oregon, Wisconsin. When he returned, it became clear that there were a number of other containers of art that had not been brought forth for his inspection. So there we have it: art, still in Brewster, New York, a 1000 boring highway miles away. Some would say – damn. A wasted trip. My preferred way of thinking: it was a trip with fantastic elements to it and it looks like it'll have to be repeated.

Here’s another welcome home tidbit: my lending officer had called and left this message: totally sorry, you’re a great person (perhaps I read that part in), but we cannot refinance your condo because we cannot make loans in a building that is less than 75% sold. I did not think: oh, what a wasted effort. I thought, instead, this: who needs a lower fixed interest rate! That’s boring. I can ride the excitement of American real estate vicissitudes. I’m the immigrant who has things to learn, right?

It’s spring today. I did what everyone should do in the first days of spring: move all the winter wear to the back of the closet and gaze adoringly at the suddenly prominent sun dresses and short pants. And if it turns out that next week will be cold, I’ll think: eh! It was fun looking at pink and yellow billowy things for a while. Even as I now reach back for the wooly sweater.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

generational topography

He remains third in rankings of our most successful presidents (following Lincoln and Washington).

In Hyde Park along the Hudson River, Ed and I listen to a recording of the first Franklin D Roosevelt fireside chat – spoken to a people who were glued to radios, hoping to regain hope. They got it. The next room of the FDR presidential library is plastered with letters of thanks, written to FDR immediately after the radio show.

two chats came from his study here; FDR's mom insisted on the placement of her portrait in the room

For all that you could say about FDR’s programs and ideas, for all the astonishing New Deal successes (I am a huge fan) and some arguably astonishing failures (I was, after all, raised in Poland, in the aftermath of Yalta), you have to be impressed with his leadership in the face of enormous challenges.


I had been to Hyde Park once before. I was a kid and my sister and I came here with my parents for one of our dutifully executed Sunday outings. My mother was experiencing a personal loss and she was in a bad mood. I have a photo of her standing on the back stairs of FDR’s residence (or, more accurately, Franklin’s mother’s -- Sara Roosevelt’s -- residence). My mother’s eyes are hidden behind huge sunglasses and no one could tell that she was closed off to the world that day. But we could tell.


Today, early in the morning, Ed and I are in a large warehouse in Brewster, New York. This is why we are here this week. Ed is opening one of 18 crates of his mother’s belongings, sorting through everything in this particular one, deciding what to take home.

looking at an arrangement of old photos

I never met Ed’s mother – she died a couple of years before he and I started occasionally traveling together, but I’ve come to collect stories about her, in the way one does about people who are close to your ... occasional traveling companions. Ed’s mother was an artist – a painter, a sculptress – and the crate is filled with her life’s work.

What do you do with the art of a person who loved you and whom you loved as well? Ed was to Edith as Franklin was to Sara. And I’m told Edith was as formidable to the world as Sara was. It’s odd, but the passing of formidable people rarely brings peace to those who tangled with them when they were alive. But to the handful who, for whatever reason, could live with the spice and brazen nature, recollections after they are gone trigger a smile.

I think about my (Polish) family entanglements and how unsimple they are, surprisingly so, given that generations are shifting and there really isn’t much to feel stormy about anymore.

When you walk through the exhibits at the FDR library, at every turn you see the influence of Franklin’s family – especially the generation of Roosevelts that came just before him. The man sailed because his father taught him to love sailing (in much the same way that Ed learned to sail with his dad).

Franklin D Roosevelt knew how to dispose of his property and Eleanor helped hurry along the task of converting Hyde Park to a public place, managed now by the National Park Service. It’s easy if you’re a four-term president: no one wants to ditch a single piece of scribble you left behind. It’s harder when your mother has died (even if her death was nearly a half dozen years ago) and you are the sole arbiter of what stays and what goes.

I see a sentimental side to Ed today. I’ve seen it before, but it’s a rare thing. The man learned guy talk fluently. My long-studied French is foreign sounding by comparison. But in Brewster, I am the task master. I nudge him to decide, I offer my opinion unabashedly, I urge him to move to the next cardboard box and the next one, until finally, we are done.

In Hyde Park, we never take that walk by the Hudson River as planned. When we travel, Ed rarely has a preference as to what we should do. But here, he has a preference. Let’s skip the Hudson. You’ve seen the river, I’ve seen the river, it’s just a river. And so we stay with the texts, photos and film clips in the library and we listen to the historian who tours the house with us. The only glimpse of the river you’ll have here is from the back stairs of the Roosevelt residence, the stairs on which my mother once stood, behind her huge sunglasses.


But as the afternoon fades and we are driving back to Kent, we make a stop that reels us back to the present. They say Franklin liked his evening coctail. Perhaps in his day, New York State wines weren’t much to brag about. Now, New York has a firm spot on the American wine making map and we pause at a winery that has done especially well – the Millbrook estate.


The vines cover hills in gentle folds. No buds yet. Too early for that. But, there is a deliberateness, a care about a well tended field of vines even now, in near-spring. A bad season can, of course, break a harvest. A good one may push the wine to new heights. A series of bad season may make it impossible to turn things around and so the wine will have a generational stamp of failed expectations. A series of good ones – with care and good weather – and the wine may become the source of family pride.


At breakfast this morning our host at the Starbuck Inn talks about his transition to the quiet of country life (he lived most of his adult life in DC). I think about how much I like the quiet now and how Ed absolutely thrives on it. You’ve picked a nice time to come here, Peter Starbuck tells us. It’s empty and the trees are empty so that you can see beyond them. You get to understand the topography.

In Brewster, Ed flips on his computer. Downloads of This American Life will accompany his drive home. I catch a train to New York, from where I fly back to Madison. This week-end, I expect Ed will unload the art we had so quickly selected to haul back. I’m sure he’ll take the topper off the truck, so that he can begin thinking about hauling a load of wood chips for his yard as the weather grows warmer

leaving New York and the Hudson River

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

from the Litchfield Hills

Oh! Pull over! He’s used to me saying this. Usually it’s because I want to take a photo.
I know this place!
There’s a sign dangling at the driveway: Matthews 1812 House.
I used their catalogue several decades ago – to send Christmas fruitcakes as gifts. I was such a fresh immigrant that I had no idea fruitcakes in the mail make people laugh.

We’re driving along Kent Road. We had done a hefty hike along the Appalachian Trail earlier. The bonus of staying in Kent is that the AT cuts right through it – a glorious stretch that climbs up a mountain and stays on the ridge, giving views so endlessly misty blue and beautiful that you never want to leave. (We stretched out on a rock and gazed for a good 45 minutes.)


But I’m mixing up chronology here. Appropriately. It was a day of many apples and oranges.

For the record: we started at the Bulls Bridge and hiked around the damn for a little while.


The goal was then to find the AT. Not easy. Ed knows the white blaze, and still, we could not pick it up. But, it was a pretty search. Past river bends, past a swimming hole with a ready rope dangling from a tree.


And then, unexpectedly, it was there and we were on it. The only hikers. Well no, sorry. How can I forget these two?


Serious hikers, I say to Ed. Maybe they’re doing the whole 2300 miles of the trail…
I get a lecture on how this is not the way one would do it. How you start in Georgia in March and finish up north six months later.
And besides, who brings a fold up chair on a long hike?
Maybe he likes to sit?
What’s wrong with a rock?

Stone fences weave their way through the forests. Were there farm fields here once?

The forest is brown still, but there are signs of green – moss, sure, there’s that – and mostly it just feels as if green is about to happen.


But as in Virginia (my only other encounter with the AT) – the mountains look blue, smoky blue against a cornflower sky.


I wont mention that I blistered my feet enough to stop in mid afternoon. We paused in Kent for a snack and so let me use this break to show a photo of a more precious fragment of the little village.


Refreshed and bandaged, I was ready for an uphill climb to look at “Connecticut’s most beautiful falls.” I'll leave you with a photo of just the top portion.


Over breakfast the next morning, our host serves us blueberry pancakes made with fruit from Henry Kissinger’s blueberry patch (it’s a long story and you don’t want to hear it) and I tell him my own associations with the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut – Patti LuPone (ah, a real flamboyant and generous presence here), White Flower Farm (sadly, too early to visit yet), Matthews 1812 fruitcake. I'll add hereafter Henry’s blueberries and the Appalachian Trail.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


If you look out a train window long enough, you’ll stop being just a passenger in a train car. At some point you’ll find yourself out there, fleetingly part of the communities that you pass. Living in old houses in need of repair, in trailer parks, in small towns leading up to big cities.

I put aside my work and stare outside.

It’s not a pretty landscape between DC and New York. At least not now, in March, when branches don’t hide life by the railroad tracks.

Baltimore, Philadelphia. Old urban giants. Row houses, bridges linking one neighborhood with another.

approaching Philadelphia

New Jersey. That part of the state. I’m still lost in the landscape out the window. In the distance, I recognize a bridge that I remember from my childhood days. On day trips out of New York, we’d sometimes drive across it and reflect how it must be the world’s ugliest bridge, linking one embarrassingly desolate and polluted wasteland with another. We had noted the name of it, too: the Casimir Pulaski bridge, named after a Polish nobleman who fought the Russians on Polish soil and the British on American soil, dying here, away from his homeland. A hero, especially to the many Polish Americans who are such a quiet presence in this country! As a kid, I did not care that the bridge was not just any bridge, that, when built (in 1933), it was lauded as The longest and The highest viaduct for motor vehicles in the world. To me it was ugly and it passed ugly ground below. And now, I am staring at it again, and I'm seeing myself on it as a kid, standing with my Brownie camera, saddened by the indifferent imagery that so often comes with the label “Polish.”


In New York, I exit Penn Station, noting, as I so often do with my camera, the first image of the city that is thrown at me as I leave the station. And here, outside Penn Station, I note another bridge, spanning a narrow street with little light. So different than the broad boulevards of DC!


I rush across the city, pulling my small suitcase whose wheels have almost given up -- too many potholes and uneven pavements, dirt tracks and cobbled ways, too many already! But, I pull and half run, all the way to Grand Central Station where I take the Harlem line north. Out of the tunnel and up on bridges spanning the streets of Harlem…


…but going beyond, emptying the cars of passengers, spitting them out in White Planes, in Patterson and finally in Brewster, and after that, the train can go no further. The few of us who want to continue north switch to the diesel powered monster. It’s a brown land out there, with barely unfrozen waters, even though we are just two hours out of New York City.


I get off at Ten Mile River and there is Ed, refreshed from a night’s sleep in his pick up truck. We drive just a handful of miles across the border to Kent, Connecticut. Not famous, not manicured or pretty but not unattractive either. Kent: home of one of only two covered bridges in the state that still permit cars to go through.


Kent hasn’t a rail station anymore, even though it has the tracks to prove that it once was a worthy destination.


Now, it is just Kent, old Kent, the village with one major intersection and a few antique stores. I know of it from more than a decade back, when my daughter had an interest in the music of Patti LuPone. My girl and I traveled from Wisconsin to New York once to hear her sing and afterward, we stood outside and watched as Ms LuPone left the theater and got in the car which would take her to her home in Kent.

Ed and I are here for a few nights. He has stuff to pick up nearby, held in storage for years and years and I have stuff to sort through in my head, as always, and work to do, as always, and walks to take and lots of staring to do. No train now, just a pickup truck and a dirt track along the Housatonic River.

Monday, March 16, 2009

daughters and moving forward

Evening. We listen to a commonwealth of songs – her Ipod, my Itunes -- and we compare associations. This one is from your college graduation! (Her college Master used the poetry of the song at commencement; four years later, she used it again for my younger daughter’s graduation. Poor woman – I figure she ran out of ideas.)

Ed is driving his truck east tonight. Ed. The purchaser of a cell phone on EBay. With an even cheaper sim card, also from EBay, so that you never know if his non response is the fault of a cheap, useless sim card or the result of a rolled over truck, because he just will not spend the money on a motel room unless I'm there, urging him to pause and rest.

My daughters connect with each other on the phone. Listening to them talk is the perfect wrap up to the night. I feel I have done my bit. Their lives are set. They are moving forward.

Ed calls. He is somewhere in Pennsylvania, zipping forward. He has to prove that he needs no stop over, no rest point, no break, nothing but the Ebay cellphone and his truck.

I’m winding down. I had two weekends with daughters and I’m winding down. I move away quietly, listening to them laugh with each other on the phone over some website or other.

Ed? Are you there?

I sit with my camera at dinner, hoping that I can catch just a second of it all before we all disperse and move forward.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

DC ramble

I don’t really mind the cold and damp. It’s not what I associate with DC, but at this time of the year, that kind of stuff happens. And the benefit is that it leads to a more relaxed approach to the day.

My daughter lives downtown and so the city sprawls in every direction right out her door. But we are stuck to a pattern. Almost always we choose to walk down to the White House, crossing in front of the WWII Memorial, toward the Basin with the cherries (budding now!) and along the Potomac to Georgetown.

Today, the rain never stopped, not for a minute. Undeterred, we huddled under her pink umbrella and followed this most splendid route.



Oh sure, fortified by grits and eggs before the hike and at the end, warmed by coffee (yes yes, tea for her) and cupcakes.



She is at work now. It never fully lets up for her. I am at her apartment soaking in her life in this space that is so quintessentially hers. We’ll head out to dinner soon and tomorrow before dawn, she is off to New York to do work there and, ironically, I am off to New York as well, though on a later train.

We’ll keep on being in each others space, but it wont be the same. She’ll be in one of those glass buildings with countless offices, I’ll be taking a train out of the city, searching for Ed and his truck somewhere not too far from the Hudson River Valley.

Have I mentioned how much I dislike putting distance between my daughters and myself?