Saturday, September 05, 2015

how you will feel

How you will feel when the bus leaves without you is a pit in your stomach, a gnawing, a loss that needs grieving, even if you made the decision, even if you have umpteen things to do that make riding on a bus full of kids to a beach four hours away nonsensical, illogical, inadvisable.

When the bus pulls out and makes a right while you in your car behind it make a left there will be a quick flash of pain like a girl's first heartbreak, a note unanswered, eyes that can't be met, a sudden and complete silence stretching like a yawn as far as she can see.

When you pull into your driveway and look over and see the planning page topmost on your clipboard on the passenger seat, the scribble scrabbles of meals planned and shopped for that your hands won't prepare, your mouth won't eat, you will consider just sitting there, in your car, in your driveway, for a while.

But there's a dog on the other side of the fence, staring at you with a face full of welcome home friend and inside the sound of a boy laughing at something on YouTube, laughter pealing like a windchime, tinkling like a bright bell, while your heart tugs and heals, tugs and heals, tugs and heals.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

No list, just life

The supplies are purchased, though unlabeled. Still on the list as well is the giant startup grocery trip.

Haircuts happened last week, ditto the acquisition of new lunchboxes and ice packs for them.

We've attended the Open Houses, and we've come to understand how a child can have both 3rd and 4th periods at Career Center and at his home high school.

This is the year we won't have "three day weekends" but rather "college tour weekends". We'll spend as much time looking forward this year as we do focusing on the present.

These next two years are for polishing up our boy, the basic outlines of whom were long ago set. He needs to learn how to do some basic cooking, for example. How to fold a bottom sheet. How to plan a dream trip and then save and budget for it.

Something feels different, more expectant, about this First Day. I feel like we are hurtling toward his future now, and some doors are slowly closing and some opening wider based on the changes in trajectory he chooses.

Two years seems like nothing, like we're running out of time to finish this giant project we began sixteen years ago, but I know that powerful change can happen in two years and that the world won't end if he never learns to fold that sheet.

In the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, there is a teacher named Page Dancy whom he was blessed to have for English for two years. He basked and flourished in her classroom, felt cared for and nourished, and so produced incredible poetry.

A piece entitled "I Am" remains a favorite of mine to this day. The assignment was to describe his origins in various ways, such as in terms of his house, his neighborhood, and his city. The second to last stanza was to be in terms of his family.

I am from Spain and Mexico and Scotland and England 
And several other places along the way. 
I am from blue-eyed teachers and green-eyed naval officers  
And beautiful brown-eyed women speaking Spanish. 
I am from a celebration of cultures 
And I get all the holidays. 
I am from a family of fiercest love.

He is. And we are blessed to have him and will continue to shepherd him into the future he boldly embraces.
I am from the future of wonderful.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

On the volunteers at Guilford County Animal Shelter

In early November 2004, I launched a campaign in my home.

It consisted of me emailing this photo to my husband multiple times a day, hidden behind a link that would say something like: I think our boys need this. What do you think? or Looks like a good workout!

The photo was from the Guilford County Animal Shelter and showed an approximately two year old, female, mixed breed shepherd named Salsa.

Salsa wasn't getting much coverage. Her photoblurb was the second from the bottom on the shelter's Petfinder page and on page 3 of the dogs on the shelter's own webpage. I suspected she had been at the shelter for some time.

I loved her fiercely the moment I saw this photo. My husband however took a little convincing, which is why I set about Salsa-rolling his inbox.

I did so for 48 days.

On December 23, 2004, as he drove home from his then-office in Greensboro, he decided he would just run by the shelter and at least meet the dog. Only meet the dog.

When he entered the building, an older woman who was volunteering as a greeter asked if he needed help, and he said he was there to see about a dog named Salsa. Immediately tears sprang into her eyes, and her voice quavered when she asked to be sure, "Salsa? You're here for Salsa?"

At that moment my husband realized and accepted that he was going home with a dog.

As she led him to the kennel where Salsa cowered behind another, vigorously barking dog, the lady beamed at the other volunteers they passed and with no small amount of disbelief in her voice told each one, "He came for Salsa."


I went outside when I heard his car pull into the drive. The company for which my husband worked had recently been acquired by a larger company, and the transition was not a happy one. I worried about my husband and the toll on him.

He stepped out of his car that day about an hour later than usual, and so I asked, "Bad day?" He replied, "I've done something stupid." I sucked my breath in and waited for him to continue. Instead I heard a muffled bark from the car, and then I was moving toward it, crying and laughing at the same time.

"It was the old lady," he told me that evening. "She was so happy I had come for Salsa."

Salsa's paperwork told us she had been at the shelter five and a half months. She was matted and smelled sour, her teeth were so yellow they looked like someone had used a highlighter on them, and she tooted lethal gas that cleared rooms.

But she was alive. And for a large black dog in a busy county shelter, that was no small feat. Someone or some ones protected her, shielded her, convinced those in charge to give her a chance, a day, a week, a month.

Five months.


We have had Salsa almost eleven years. She is my dog, my sweetheart, my girl. She snoozes next to me late in the evening, and she will happily ride in the car on the dumbest errands.

Salsa's three year "Gotcha" anniversary

I love that when they were small she thought the children were her responsibility and I was a horrible mother who kept losing them at school, that she treats eating as the greatest activity ever, and that she still thinks sprinklers and hoses are toys not tools. She really is the best dog ever.

Pilot Mountain

But I am acutely aware that I never would have had her without the help of those unnamed Salsa's angels.

So thank you. Thank you for my dog and for the dogs and cats of innumerable others. Thank you, too, for the love and care you gave those you could not save.

Thank you to those of you who have kept hanging in there and thank you to those of you who found you could not.

May the days ahead be brighter for all.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Laundry list

Thursday, 1:30 PM
stuffs to look at this weekend...

So this may have happened

On the rising costs of school supplies
“It makes you feel like you’re less than a mother,” said Massie, who is disabled and lives on food stamps and $750 a month from Social Security. “It makes you cry in the middle of the night. . . . When this child was born, I had so many hopes and dreams I thought I would be able to provide for, and then life happens and your body breaks down. You feel like less than nothing.”
Nat Geo's 2015 travel photo contest winners

How teenage girls have been shaping the English language since, oh, the 1500s

What's with the 'do - update: ADOPTED!

On rescuing wildlife
After brief, good-natured negotiations, the cricketers stop their game and watch as Wakelam takes a swift from the box, plants a quick good-luck kiss on its feathery crown and holds it high in the air on her outstretched palm.
How to import the WS/FCS calendar into your Google, Microsoft, or other calendar

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Laundry list

Orlando, Tuesday 10:15 PM
stuffs to look at this weekend...

When you provide young people with an encouraging environment and the opportunity to rediscover themselves, they begin to hold their heads up high and start thinking, often for the first time, about their future.
Did Scarlet O'Hara take a cue from Dolley Madison?

Why August is the new September

The eyes (still) have it

Romans, Pirates, and Nazis! Pshaw.

Uniquely historic lodging option near DC


Saturday, July 04, 2015

Laundry list

Hanes Mall Boulevard
stuffs to look at this weekend...

Oh, Neville...  - update: ADOPTED!

Headed to my alma mater: one of the best aspects of American is the diversity and breadth of experience of its student body, so that during classes about international issues, one hears from voices impacted. May this student flourish at American, and may his voice enrich the students in his classes and deepen their thinking even as it humbles them.
Kim dreams of a life working for non-profits and one day going back to North Korea to rebuild the country after the regime falls. But mostly, he wishes to one day locate his sister, Bong Sook, who he believes was sold into marriage in China.

Kept mine

Holy carp!

DC summer must see

"Small, featureless sociopaths"

You're making this island disappear
She welcomed me with a Marshallese word that is as ubiquitous as it is magical. 
Meaning: "Hello," "I love you," and "You are a rainbow."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Laundry list

Hanes Park
stuffs to look at this weekend...

Historical name calculator
Maybe you’re one of those men born in 1983 and named Michael, the most popular name of the year. Today, if you were given the most popular boy’s name, you’d be named Noah.
What is a "hypnotic gaze"? - ADOPTED!

If every state were a country

The Child Preachers of Brazil

Kitchen Ghosts: cooking cinemagraphs

Prosthetics with pizzazz
He’s working with the Department of Veterans Affairs to help vets, particularly a growing number of female amputees, step out in style. “They tell me they want their legs to look flashy or sparkly,” said Horkey. “They want wings or diamonds.”
Photos of roadside kiosks in Burkina Faso

O Say Can You See? A blog from the National Museum of American History

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Laundry list

Marguerite Drive

stuffs to look at this weekend...

Fatal Distraction: an article that has stayed with me the last six years
What kind of person forgets a baby? 
The wealthy do, it turns out. And the poor, and the middle class. Parents of all ages and ethnicities do it. Mothers are just as likely to do it as fathers. It happens to the chronically absent-minded and to the fanatically organized, to the college-educated and to the marginally literate. In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. An accountant. A soldier. A paralegal. An electrician. A Protestant clergyman. A rabbinical student. A nurse. A construction worker. An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist.
Learning to ride a hoverboard


Empty Spaces: Left Behind
Across the Netherlands there are empty spaces belonging to the 194 Dutch nationals who died after Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was shot out of the sky over the eastern Ukraine.
Frozen in time: newly discovered school chalkboards from almost a century ago

Get your retro cinema fix this summer

The Oldest Old
They buried brothers, sisters, parents, children, peers. They lived through the Depression, World War II, Nazi labor camps and the AIDS epidemic, but now they often find themselves with no one to listen to their memories.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Laundry list

George shares his Mexico project with a visitor during his school's World Celebration

stuffs to look at this weekend...

Why we should let kids pick their own summer reading books

Citrus is a Ragdoll - ADOPTED!
The name "Ragdoll" is derived from the tendency of this breed to go limp and relaxed when picked up.
The Secret Sadness: Pregnancy with Depression


ISO Amelia Earhart
Three years ago, Spink was having dinner with Marshallese friends when he asked an innocent question: “Didn’t Amelia Earhart disappear in this part of the world?” A local man answered: “Yes, she landed on our island, and my uncle watched her for two days.”
Al Capone slept here

Pilot Mountain: Hot Nights, Hot Cars