September 24, 2004

* Early mornings I wake up to a sleeping Sam and a warm shower and packing lunch into my big purple cooler and breakfasting on maple pecan cereal with vanilla soy milk. And then it's brisk morningness and dew on the windshield and NPR on the way to Vancouver, driving over the Columbia with the occasional crystal clear glimpse of Mount Hood. I talk to a million school secretaries on the phone and leave the same upbeat message on principals' voicemails, and stamp envelopes and talk about puppets. Deb pokes fun at me and then laughs a really great laugh. Yesterday she kept shooting rubber bands in my direction. I dance while she is on the phone. When we've gone bonkers from all of the calls we turn up the radio and bounce on the chairs.

* At dusk in Washtenaw County, Naila and I stood waist deep in Silver Lake and watched a storm roll in, dark grey encroaching upon the high hills, the cool wind, the sense of impendingness. And then we picnicked in the rain, hiding beneath the wide branches of an oak tree, giggling over the wind and giving each other wry smiling glances as the rain blew into our faces.

* On the plane ride home I sat in the bulkhead and reclined my seat and put my feet up on the partition and sipped my ginger ale and felt high class. The elderly woman next to me told me that the key to marriage is staying out of bed. "Don't get me wrong," she said. "Bob and I steamed up the windows, but we had our clothes on." I nodded politely and listened as she told me all about living on military bases and her grandkids and the benefits of being an old lady. "All I have to do is look over my glasses like this. And then I'm hell on wheels. You don't want to give any trouble to an old woman glaring at you like this over her spectacles."

* At the Earth and Spirit Council harvest festival, we baked salmon in the ground and gave thanks before we ate and then we drummed and sang and explored in the woods and told stories. Julie and I rolled over the grass pretending to be water and it made me remember that "finding nature" is not a solemn and serious quest. It is joyful and exhilarating and easy.

* I started a pottery class with a woman named Adrienne who has a border collie named Skye who will love you forever if you toss her that popped, torn, furry green tennis ball. One of my classmates said last night, "I feel like I can breathe in a whole new way." The clay moves beneath my hands with a mind of its own, sometimes giving me permission to shape it and sometimes choosing instead to twist and fold and kick up its heels. After class I turn on the music and clean the studio, a trade for free instruction. Skye keeps me company and she slip-slides over the freshly mopped floor as I bounce the ball in her direction. When I go down into the basement to start the laundry, Skye stays at the top of the stairs, head tilted, eyebrows up, waiting for my return. I think that if the Basement Monsters were to attack, she would be at my side in a second.

* Instructions from my boss at my other job: "Fill the room with paper. Then jump around in it and see what you come up with. Kerry, Meg, and Emily, you're worms. The rest of you are monsters. I'll be back in fifteen minutes." Or, "Quack! Louder! I can't here you! I said quack!"

* Emily and Annalise have been staying at our house and it's company all the time, but not the kind of company you have to entertain and take care of. Instead it's coming home after rehearsal and making ice cream experiments, and renting movies, and late-night conversations. It's nice. I think I want to run a boarding house.

* I bought tickets for Sam and me to see Lyle Lovett tonight, on a complete whim. When I surprised Sam with the news, he said, "That's so great! And so weird!"

* When Emily Alexander drove home with Wolfie and their new dog Milo, Wolfie buried his face in Milo's fur and said "Mommy, I love him so much my stomach hurts." Gracie, the lab next door, is going to have puppies. Grant, my ten-year-old neighbor, is quietly excited about it. He said that they can't throw the ball as far as they usually do, because Gracie shouldn't be running around too much. But she'll have her puppies soon, so it's okay. He just wants to be able to wrestle with her again.

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