Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Plus Two

We had a great Thanksgiving Day.  Drew and Em were here and although it sometimes seems like there should be a crowd around the table, we were OK this year with just the four of us.  Mark and I were just home for a short, lovely trip to New York City so we had plenty of hustle and bustle and were ready for a few quiet days.

While we were in NYC, we decided to visit the new Ground Zero Memorial.  It was kind of a whim.  On Monday, the museums are closed so we wandered down to the tip of Manhattan.  It turned out you needed a timed ticket, something we would have known if we had planned ahead but it was all improvised.  We walked over to the temporary headquarters and got a ticket without much trouble.  The 'Occupy Wallstreet' protester had been removed from a block right there the day before and the police were out in full force waiting for them to return.  Part of me wanted to hang around and watch the drama unfold but we didn't have time to get arrested so instead we spent the hour before we could enter the memorial in St Paul's Chapel, which has been continuously open since 1766.  We walked through the doors that George Washington walked through on the day of his inauguration, which seemed like a very American thing to do.

Once inside the Ground Zero Memorial we were struck by the beauty of the day and the fountains.  There really is a sense of shared grief and peace.  As we watched, a young woman, accompanied by an older couple, make a rubbing of a name. All of the 2,819 deaths are memorialized on the fountains.  We were glad to have made the time to visit.

Back home, it feels like a long way off and yet, a part of all our lives.  We ate our turkey and counted our blessings.  It's best not to be afraid of joy as the holidays begin.  Embrace it, I say, or maybe the theme this year should be 'Occupy Happiness.'

Monday, November 14, 2011

Knitting As Therapy

This week a dear friend of mine started chemotherapy for breast cancer.  It's a tough path to start down and those of us who have known her for a long time are trying to walk it with her, to offer what support we can, both practical and emotional.

She has scheduled an appointment to have her head shaved in the next few days.  We will go with her and then join our husbands for dinner to 'celebrate.'  It's a gutsy move but I think I might do the same.  It seems less depressing than watching your hair fall swirl down the drain one clump at a time.

It's probably in response to that thought, but I have been knitting hats like crazy in the past few weeks.  In general, I'm more of a mitten person.  My hands are always cold and I love all the beautiful color work in the mittens.  However, all of the hat patterns have been calling to me so I am knitting hats and giving them to my friend.  I just finished a soft cotton cap she can wear around the house or to bed if she needs something to keep her head cozy. One of the things I hadn't thought of until a nurse mentioned it while I was with her at the clinic is that her head might get cold at night.

When someone you love is sick or facing tough times, you look for just the right thing to do.  Mostly that is for them, but a little bit of it is, selfishly, for yourself.  It's easy to worry and fret.  The truth is that you can't make someone better.  You can only offer them your love and support.  You can walk with them, cry and laugh, and somehow, get through it together.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Just The Ordinary Days

We packed up and drove home yesterday.  Our lake year came to an end.  The last day is always a busy one.  There are lots of chores to do. Some of these can't be done until the very end and a few you put off or remember at the last minute, like Mark's act of 'eco-terrorism' as he called his harvesting of a small birch tree that he plans to use for a new frame-making endeavor next year.

I made time for a walk down to the point which is as close as you can get on foot to the little bay where I love to kayak.  I was hoping I might see a trumpeter swan.  On Monday we drove to Bemidji and along the way we saw some swans feeding in small ponds along the road.  I read up on them when we got back to the cabin.  After almost facing extinction, their numbers are now up and they often travel through Minnesota on their way to winter feeding grounds.  Some lake friends said they have been spotted on Ponto in the past several years.

I crossed my fingers and pulled on my rubber boots.  Along the way I snapped a few photos.  Just the little bits of color left and the patterns found along a path I walk almost every day when I am in Minnesota.  Small changes happen everywhere.

There were no swans in our bay on Tuesday but that is OK.  Maybe they will come later.  Maybe we will see them next year.   In the meantime, we finished our chores while loons called to each other on the lake.

My thoughts are already turning toward my family and friends back in Omaha.  The holidays are ahead and there will be gatherings filled with laughter and talk.  Lots of knitting to do and books to read.  It reminds me of a favorite poem by William Stafford.

Notes For The Program

Just the ordinary days, please,
I wouldn't want them any better

About the pace of life, it seems best to have
slow, if-I-can-stand-them revelations.

And take this message about the inevitable,
I've decided it's all right if it comes.