Sunday, April 30, 2017

A changing climate

What a treat it was to host my dear friend Mark and his son Emmett this weekend! Too bad it took a visceral fear of our planet going down the toilet to get one of my favorite people on the planet and his oldest son down to visit me in DC, but I'll take what I can get...

As we wandered around the city after dinner on Friday night -- the guys wanted to stretch their legs after 12 hours of bus transit from Burlington -- we chatted about the various neighborhoods we walked through and their complicated racial histories, about the old days of teaching in Brooklyn (which is where I originally met Mark), about where our nation might be headed in these tumultuous times and what we were doing to be a force for good. Though there was a good bit of ranting along the way, by the time we returned home for a beer I was feeling less hopeless.

Though I am daily outraged by the stuff coming out of the Executive Office -- seriously, I shake my fist every morning at the radio as I have breakfast and listen to WAMU -- Mark reminded me that as teachers we have a real chance to foster an atmosphere of hope, kindness, intelligence, and activism. It's up to us adults who care -- because, let's face it, we are all teachers in one way or another -- to help ensure that the next generation will be made up of good people. We've got to stick together, and stick up for what's right for everyone. I am regularly heartened by the banding together of many people against hatred, racism, bigotry, and ignorance, and this was in full effect yesterday during the Climate March.

Right on. I wish Mark visited more often!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Buried treasure

I love Easter. It continues to be my favorite holiday: it's basically Thanksgiving with better weather and less football. This year, there were a few changes to the usual routine:

1. Instead of me (almost 40) and my brother (in his mid-30s) and I knocking each other out of the way to find the usual peanut m&m filled plastic eggs that mom stashed around the back yard, dad and I giggled maniacally as we pointed the world's cutest 2-year-old niece toward jelly belly filled eggs scattered about in the grass. We spent much of the rest of the afternoon chasing the dog away from the jelly beans when Elena inevitably spilled the opened eggs all over the back deck. She was so proud of herself it was hard to be annoyed. Also, the jelly beans were delicious.

2. Instead of the standard chemical tablet dyes, we dipped our hard boiled eggs in all-natural solutions made from beet juice, turmeric, and chili powder. Though in the end the eggs didn't stain, neither did my hands, so there's that. More research required before next Easter.

3. We only had 2 large meat dishes + 4 or 5 veggie dishes for 6 adults and 1 hungry toddler. Win!

4. Instead of the chocolate bunny mom normally gives me, I had another Easter surprise. Dad took me down to the basement to look through some miscellaneous bags and boxes of things he thought might be mine, and lo and behold I was reunited with some long lost cooking equipment:

For YEARS dad had insisted that I never gave him these objects on the day of my bike trip departure, at the C&O canal picnic gathering in April of 2009. And though I distinctly recall someone snapping a photo of me handing him the whisk, since I couldn't produce photographic evidence I had started to question my memory. Yesterday, almost exactly EIGHT YEARS LATER, there it was, beneath a bag of spare bike tire tubes and other "might need" items dad had kept handy at the Northern Virginia Bikeable Feast home base during my trip. And apparently for another 6 1/2 years. Nestled next to it was the missing pepper grinder, swiped from a terrible NYC restaurant back in 2004, and missing in action since that fateful day in April 2009 -- I loved that pepper grinder. And it still works! I think I'm going to put freshly ground pepper on everything for the next week....

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Loving life

My life isn't perfect -- whose is, really? -- but on days like today I feel lucky to lead the life I do.

I was reflecting on this while roaming around the C&O canal earlier today with 45 members of my school's Student Sustainability Corps -- a group made up of elementary and middle school students and an amazing special education teacher who continue to lead the school's recycling, gardening, and general sustainability efforts. They're pretty awesome, but usually I only get to spend about 45 minutes a week with a subgroup of these kids, so getting to spend more time talking and exploring together was quite a treat. The weather was perfect, and on this all-day field trip I couldn't help but smile as young people pointed excitedly at blue herons and turtles, snapped photos of wildflowers, fiddled with binoculars, marveled at rapids, and listened intently as our guide described the various forms pre-leafing poison ivy could take. (I noticed that nobody touched ANY sticks, vines, or branches for the remainder of the morning -- nicely done, ranger.)

I also noted that today's hike started at the very same spot where, almost exactly eight years ago, Ollie and I headed out on our cross-country journey. Where a group of friends and family picnicked with me the afternoon of the Bikeable Feast kickoff, where my mom told me she was proud of me, where my dad hugged me and agreed to take home the whisk and two paperbacks I decided fifteen miles into my ride were too heavy, where friends waved as I biked off into the great unknown around our country.

I got a little misty eyed that day. And today as well. Friends and family have supported and encouraged me then, and they still do. Each day was an adventure, and it still is.... Thank you, Universe, for letting me live this life!