SOLC22: day 21, what makes you feel safe?

Terrified best describes how I felt as I buckled up. My instincts were screaming not good, not good.

It was my first flight. An American Airlines 747. Silver with a red and blue stripe. I was, am, afraid of heights and my family had no apparent concerns about this ridiculous idea of getting in a steel can and purposely leaving the earth. Insane.

In the grey seat I sat. Looking back towards the door thinking what if, I walked out the door that would lead me off of this plane. The door that closed and pulled away from the stairs that would take me to the earth.

I buckled my seat belt wondering what good it would do. Would we be flying over water? Would it be better to crash on land? My ten-year-old brain was running as many possibilities as possible while the large silver wing outside my tiny window bounced.

I leaned back and held on as the plane began to move. Slowly at first. And ever so gradually faster. And faster. I heard a scraping sound and felt an invisible push back. More and more until I felt my mom’s hand. And then lightness, as let go and gave in. At that point, I believed I’d be fine. It would be alright. My mom was there. It had to be.

Years later, I told my mom about this moment. We laughed at my faith in her strength to keep disaster at bay.

But, at the time it was real. I knew I was safe with my mom.

Fifty years ago, my mom made me feel safe.

What makes you feel safe depends on time and place. What do you need to get you through the tough parts. And we all have tough parts.

SOLC22: day 21, meet chubby

Meet Chubby. Chub, Chubinski, Mr. Chubbles, Chubblish. Ironically named, he was the smallest of his litter. His face, with it’s white and black markings, gave our 14-year-old son the impression of a chubby face. Hence the name. It’s a name that makes my students giggle when I tell stories about him. I’m sure they think his is in fact, chubby. But he’s not.

He can be impossibly long. Stretching out to sun himself.

He can be tiny. Curled up on top of a pile of shirts, on top of a chest of drawers.

He is nearly 14 and spends an inordinate amount of time sleeping. But there are times when his inner kitten emerges. When he pounces on something no one else can see. When he chases his tail. When he runs down the hall when the front door is opened. When he bats at any offered string or ribbon.

He is our constant companion. On top of your feet when you wake up in the morning, on top of the table, if you let him, so he can be on top of the newspaper as you attempt to read it. On top of the keyboard as you attempt to type, on top of your chest when you nap. And of course on top of your lap whenever you are in a chair he’d like to be on.

He used to go out and stay out. In those days, he’d come home in the early morning and sleep all day. After some nighttime adventures, he’d limp around home for a few days to nurse his wounds. One time, tending a bloodied ear, the vet assured me that he was the aggressor because his wounds were on his face. Strangely, that made me proud.

He used to go to the neighbors and get daily treats. Years went by before our neighbor realized that their morning visitor was our cat. Strangely, that made me feel cheated on.

Now, he stays close to home. Our snack-giving neighbors have moved on and dog owners moved in. Either he instinctually knows that his powers have diminished, there are no more treats to get, or he’s just rather sleep.

He is not the agile cat he once was, but he still can find his way into his a fresh basket of laundry and into our hearts.

Today’s post is inspired by Elisabeth Ellington’s wonderful Portrait of Potato.

SOLC22: day 19, the plan for now

The sky matches my morning mood. Moments of sunshine break through, then the sky turns off the light. Blue peeks out under a cloud then is misted over to grey. Back and forth. And so goes my mood.

My answer to what are you going to do today is met with, I’m not sure. So far, it has been filled with bursts of tidying followed by stretches of sitting with coffee and a book. Drowsiness takes hold and I fight the urge to nap with another cup of tea.

My body is fighting with my desire to get Saturday going.

Oh for the lost hour.

Even though I know I’ll be used to the earlier wake ups by next week, I resent the change. From the dark mornings to the annoying process of remembering how to change the time on the microwave, I hate the switch.

I walk outside to visit our fruit trees, each in a stage of regeneration. Our red wheel barrel has found a new home between them. A chair nearby invites and I make peace with my waring self. There is no need to do. Sitting in the sun that is currently shinning in the moment is the plan for now.

SOLC22; day 18, guilty pleasure

I got home from Open House, the first in two years, and found the usual.

I’m the worst when it comes to ordering books on Amazon. The click of a button on my phone is too easy. When it comes to books, I am guilty of the need for, or maybe habit of instant gratification. And in the process, I have contributed to the super wealth of Jeff Bezos and the decline of Western Civilization.

My excuse for this reprehensible behavior is because it is not for me, but for readers in my classroom.

Today’s package was different. I have no excuse.

I was unabashedly thrilled to find these books, all for me.

Thanks to Elisabeth Ellington’s Top Ten reads, my bedside table is comfortably stacked.

SOLC 22: day 17, tempered cat antics

It takes two trips to load my car. It’s not that I have that much, it’s what I have in hand. Two cups. One cup of coffee for the road, and one flask of tea for when I get to school. Two drinks. Two trips. I leave the door open as I travel back and forth, and my cat watches.

Most days he sits at the door. Observing.
Some days he wanders out to the front step. Ready to return.

Yesterday, he moved out beyond the porch with purpose. Tail up, he stepped out to the garden path. Then he stopped. Frozen. His front right paw suspended. Ears forward. Step. Crouch. Step. Step-step. Slinking in hunter mode.

Curious, I followed. Was it a bird? I have seen him catch a bird in flight. I have seen feathers strewn about. I have seen his savage skill. As much as I hated this vicious side, part of me wanted to see him take charge and show his young nimble self.

I leaned over to look as a noise next door, stops him. He turns and darts towards the front door.

At the doorstep, he stops. Turns and looks back, as if to see if he’s being followed, and runs inside.

To my eyes there was nothing.

What is going through his mind?

Does he instinctively know his ability to gage a distance, to execute a leap is compromised?
Does he feel an aching in his joints?

Whatever the cause, I was glad that he had the good sense or instict to get inside. Safe. Out of the neighborhood antics.

As he sits in the doorway, looking out, I give him a good bye stroke and close the door.

I imagine him turning to a warm space to sleep. Waiting till I return.

SOLC22: day 16, travel with a touch

A few weeks ago this photo of Monet’s garden, taken in July of 2019, was showcased on my daily photo “for you” feed. I made it my screen saver, and time I look at it, I travel back to Monet’s garden.

Scrolling through shots of the garden today, I came upon this one.

The overcast, rainy day allowed the green take center stage. The blue grey thistle balls, the pink purple dianthus blooms float above the water lilies. Willows drape down in the background. The dark green pond reflection is broken by intermittent rain drops.

Something about the sky, even on that overcast day, took your breath away.

Travel was so doable. Now, I’m grateful for the photos on my phone that allow trips with a touch.

What trips can you take on your camera roll?

SOLC 22: day 15, rays of light

My plants soak up the last bits of the sun before I close the door on them. Outside daylight is waiting. Sneaky thing. Tricking me into thinking I have more time, when I have less.

I walk past an after school group of first graders. They are migrating from their school rooms to the playground. Shinny backpacks and bouncing pony tails, they march off. Two boys trail behind. Their clandestine conversation is capped off with arms flung over each other’s shoulders.

Coming around the corner, I recognize a boy from the morning line up. His shoulders move in a way that makes you take notice. He picks up his black backpack (no super heroes for him) and swaggers off to meet his group.

Energy pulsates out of each child. They are brimming with it. I envy these supercharged beings. Even though are beholden to schedules dictated to them, they radiate light.

Inspired by Megan’s post, I looked for the rays of light in my day.

SOLC22 – day14: shoots of hope

My husband is always mucking about in the garden. A few months back he transplanted four young fruit trees, from the side of the house to the back. Each one planted outside our bedroom windows

They were young. We worried for them. Last month during a warm spell, three burst into bloom.

The apricot tree showed no signs of life. Every time I passed it, I’d have to lean away to dodge it’s wide reach. It’s branches reached out into the pathway giving me a scratch as I walked by. Reminding me it was there.

I hadn’t been by in a few days. Had forgotten about it. Until yesterday. It gave us a surprise.

Shoots of green.

Poking out from every limb was resilience. Life came through when we least expected it. Hope came to our apricot tree.

SOLC22 – day 13: electronic vs. paper

I am currently reading a book on my Kindle. It was free, so I couldn’t resist. And while I am enjoying it, and see the benefits of electronic books, I long for the weight of a book in my hands.

There are times when reading on a device is a joy. One of the biggest benefits of electronic books is that it is instant. With a click, a book can appear on my phone. What magic! There have been times when reading a book on a device has kept my attention. I read Anna Karenina, Sarum, and The Goldfinch on my phone. Crazy? Yes. And unintended. (I just needed a book at the moment.) I think I read faster on an electronic device. Something about the backlit screen. Or maybe it’s the act of swiping each page.

For me, there are more times when the physicality of a book is necessary. Electronic books eliminate the aesthetics of a book. The cover design can not be duplicated on an electronic page. The feel of the page, the place of a bookmark, the way the author places the words on a page is important for comprehension and enjoyment. I’d argue that careful reading is harder to do on with an electronic book. With paper, I find myself going back to re read certain parts. Not so with electronic. It’s too difficult to navigate the back and forth.

Paper books live with me: beside my bed and on my bookshelves. I see reading not as an act of solitude, but on that needs to be shared. Handing a book to a friend is an offering that says, I know you and I think this is worth you time.

If all that existed in life were electronic books, I’d adjust. I just hope it doesn’t come to that.

This post was inspired by bermageddon who compared city living to suburban life in this slice. What might you compare and contrast?

SOLC22 – day 12: choices

This morning, I went to a morning swim workout. It is ridiculously early. But I do it. Not just for the obvious exercise component, but for the time it allows my brain to rest. The coach gives the workout and my body does the work.

There is a certain luxury in doing without thinking. I don’t have to decide what’s next or how long or why.

The rest of my day requires choice. And this is also a great luxury that I have based on where I was born and what skin I was born in. I try to never forget this and operate in ways that acknowledge and give back.

Having choice is a gift.

On Monday, our school district is giving students the choice to mask or not mask inside. In the words of the district and the CDC, it is still “strongly recommended” to mask but not required. Choice.

This morning my lane-mate asked what would I do. Mask or no. I knew what I personally preferred. But, for a brief moment I felt pressure to be with the group. And that feeling made my choice so easy.

“I’ll mask. It’s a no brainer.” I said. “First, because I think it is wise. But, more importantly to support those children who feel they want to mask, but are fearful of being different,” I said.

My swim mates agreed that it seemed the best choice. And we continued on doing what we were told.

Sometimes it is a gift to be told what to do.