Year 2, Day 49 – Julia

Having had a little grapple with the calendar, I’m 98% sure that today (11 July) is Day 49 –  unless of course we counted 22nd May as Day 1…Cynthia?  Either way, it’s nice to be back on track-ish with this blog.  It’s 24 (low 80’s  – perfect) and I’m about to put 2 sisters, 2 tents, 3 airbeds, and a whole heap of gear in the car and head here:

http://www.westhookfarm-camping.co.uk/map.html

Huzzah!  That line between the fields and the cliffs is the coast path, which stretches for beautiful miles in both directions. That island is Skomer, which is full of puffins and guillemots and happiness. That bright thing in the sky is the long-lost sun! And that smug tone in my typing is an artefact of not being able to believe my luck. Happy day.

 

Glad that 2 of us are hanging out with family this week.

Day 285 – Julia

Spent a very productive hour in the garden with A. We pottered around, diggered over some raised beds, transplanted a wisteria, moved volunteer foxgloves out of the veg patch and into the flower beds and – because there were about 30 of them – moved some into various patches of waste ground too. While I pottered around poking things,  A finally unicycled the length of the garden path (20 feet), managed not to fall down the steps, and discovered that some of the fish are still alive, all at once.  We popped to town and then had sister-in-law L, foster nephew J, and long-lost good friend J over for dinner. I wouldn’t say I excel at maintaining 3 conversations at once, but it was definitely nice to sit down with people for a few hours.  It was really good to catch up with J, distracted by small children though I admittedly was.  I may have also introduced six-year-old J to our childhood game (of throwing each other onto the sofa), and forgotten that autism plus fun plus endings can equal distress very quickly. Luckily L has amazing rapport with him and managed to curtail the tantrums in under 30 seconds. Amazing. And now I’m in bed and it’s only 10:45pm. And I only have seven unread papers lurking under the laptop. Woohoo!

 

Day 273 – Julia

Wow – just under100 of these left.  What should we do next?

I phoned my folks last night, and got to catch up with 2 sisters and a Mom. Mom is finally doing a distance learning midwifery course. Go Mom!   We discussed study skills for a while and hopefully we’ll both benefit from the reminder to remove distractions, schedule in relatively uninterruptable time, etc.

The smallest sisters also seem to be thriving.  L is smitten with somebody likeable, H is smitten with life in general, and A is smitten with driving. Exciting times for all.

 

 

Day 234 – Julia

Managed to carry a coffin without falling over today.  Given my general balance difficulties, this was an amusing relief for all involved.

A’s grandfather’s funeral was a big part of a good day today, and not too upsetting for most.  I suppose it felt more fair than most funerals; 94 years is a pretty good innings, really.  Or, to be less British, a long time at bat.   GCP was a WWII Veteran, and at the crematorium some of his friends from the Royal Welch Fusilliers did a very touching flag salute and trumpeted the Last Post.  The Ode of Remembrance was recited by a 92?-year-old who served alongside C- in Normandy, and behind the recitation – We Will Remember Them – there was a sudden pressing weight of all the lives that have been given, or altered, in service to King and Country.  Powerful stuff, which stuck in my throat and made me miss my family and feel very insignificant simultaneously.

Both of my deceased grandparents served in WWII, and the threads of their lives were woven into the same ether today.   Twelve and a half years ago, RDJ’s funeral was understated and his medals were undiscussed; I remember cousins I and R sharing their surprise that he’d fought in WWII.  We wondered why he’d never talked to us about all the cool, heroic things he’d done.  Six weeks later, MED died in a VA Hospital.  Her military funeral at Gettysburg came free with her national service history and felt, unsurprisingly, like a military operation.  It was a hazy hot and humid August day, but sharp-heeled riflemen made the air crack like it was December, and the flag made a disproportionately crisp snap every time they folded it. We were all a bit limp in the heat and rag-taggle in general, and in our family diorama the sharp edges of the flag stuck out like a sore thumb.  I remember feeling like the military had loaned Baba to us for 50 years, and was claiming her back very efficiently. Fifteen minutes, Three shots, Taps, Done.

Today’s ceremony was all much gentler than the American hut-hut-hut-fire routine, and more personal somehow; perhaps because I’m older and more appreciative of the tradition; perhaps because the flag that covered the coffin had been used for this purpose for many years, and would be used maybe only a handful of times more; perhaps because the regiment was small and its veterans attended to their own; or perhaps just because the ceremony was indoors and gun-free.  Anyway, it caught us all off-guard, and there was a chapel-wide rustle for kleenex during the last post.

Well – that was a cheerful paragraph.  After that we were only moderately irreverent in the funeral car, and there were only a few eyebrows raised that there were female pallbearers and occasionally smiling faces.  And I got to hold a baby and talk bees simultaneously at the wake.

Today I’m grateful that our forebears got to come home from the war, live relatively long and relatively fulfilling, unscarred lives, and give future life to us.  I’m grateful that their fallen comrades made this possible.  I’m grateful that the living can honour the dead, whether by military ritual, by religious ritual, or by physical service.  And above all I’m grateful that almost all of the people I love are still living, and living well at that. What a luxury to have so many loved ones mostly healthy, mostly happy, and just a plane ride,car ride,short walk, or hallway away.

Day 225 -Heather

Happy New Year! Here’s to a new year full of potential.

I’m at the tail-end of my extended holiday vacation and finally have a chance to get online. It’s been a whirlwind of a week, bouncing around the east coast to visit with friends in different cities. And it has been a blast! A much welcomed vacation and an opportunity to reconnect with my best friends, who I do not get to see often enough. A week packed with laughter and good times, and for that I am exceedingly grateful.

I hope that I’ll be able to spend more time with them in the coming year.

Day 208 – Julia

Really wonderful speakerphone chat with my family this afternoon.  My sister L has discovered that there’s a pretty big schism between religion and faith, and is doing lots of reading and thinking on her own about everything she can.  I feel she’s pretty much giving herself a college education, so I’m really happy.

T and her new husband seem to be succesfully proving to the worriers that they did indeed know what they were doing when they got married.  They may be moving to Pennsylvania or to China, or L might get another job as a nuclear physicist at the Seabrook nuclear power plant, where my parents protested 36 years ago, got arrested together, and fell in love in the holding tank. Ahh, circles.

H’s dress sense and smile are both as bright as her voice, and she’s apparently a very safe driver as long as she can remember to sing with her eyes open.

And Little A, who was born my first semester at MHC, is now driving herself to and from school and buying her own hair straighteners and hockey kit, overflowing with confidence and giggles by the sounds of things.

Mama-bear was concerned that my current school difficulties are because I “choose to be a lesbian,” but I think we’ve clarified that one pretty effectively. She has been fiercely defending her chickens from a sparrow-hawk, and was feeling very pleased with her scarecrow activities.  And Papa-bear was off to do prison ministry, which seems to involve two of his favourite activities – driving and singing. So it’s pretty safe to say that we are all doing the things that uplift us.   Happy and relieved.

 

Day 165 – Julia

Made it to school today, first time since  Monday.  Gravity and I are on speaking terms, and I got to drive up in the old car with Alex and home in the new car. New car! Hooray! (Well, it’s a 2002 VW golf with 130,000 miles, but it’s new for me.  And it should save me about £25/wk on petrol, which is not insignificant.) 

Have confirmed that all relatives are ok, digging out slowly but intact.  Grandma is 87 this weekend but seems to still be out towing branches and generally being impressive.  On the topic of relatives, this week’s facebook revelations included the fact that Hannah’s general spunkiness and kickass voice mean she gets to sing at Carnegie Hall on a super-swish mentoring programme.  I would have been all worried that she was too sheltered from the world to go for an NYC scholarship, but I should know better by now.  (I know I’m paranoid about my sheltered siblings, but let’s just say she sang the lead in Fiddler On The Roof in last year’s high school musical, and she didn’t even need a costume. No jokes.) Anyway, she’s pretty amazing. And ickle Annie got her driver’s license last month, which makes all 8 of us Almost Grownups.  Proud times!

Also, I know branded drugs tend to vary very little from generic ones, but boy are the Lemsip Cold+Flu tablets my new favourite thing ever.  I feel virtually human again. 

Which means it’s dissertation o’clock.  Have a lovely Friday, all.

xxxj

49b – Julia

I’m very grateful for facebook, which allows me to confirm and share information like this:

and this:

Last week I struggled a bit when I heard rumours about this event, but only because a year ago to the day I’d been jetlagged and happy at Another Surprise Family Wedding in NH. I’m really sad that there’s no way I can hop across the Atlantic this week, but I guess if I’d been expecting another surprise wedding it wouldn’t be a surprise:).

Anyway:

As T has spent the majority of her life avoiding decisions at all costs, so I’m really proud of her for knowing what she wants and just doing it – especially without hesitation, deviation, or overcomplication. L is also a really nice guy by all recent and/or accurate accounts, so I’m really happy for them. (There were in fact old and inaccurate accounts which worried some of us a bit, but it turns out that the people who disliked him disliked him because his religious beliefs weren’t as inexplicable as theirs. Also, T used a bit of subterfuge and slander to throw us all off the scent so she could make her own mind up without any pressure from others. Turns out she’s not single and he’s not “meh” at all! He is in fact wonderful by all unbiased accounts.

So, I’m gutted I won’t be there in 4 days’ time, but delighted that most of my family will be there in person to officially learn that T has a boyfriend/fiance/ husband!

Multo Congratulations, L&T.

 

Day 14- Heather

Today has been a struggle.  I’m grappling with a myriad of conflicting emotions as I digest new information about my family’s history.  What started as a fun trip down memory-lane through my late maternal-grandmother’s photos has turned into a heartbreaking discovery of unknown family members.  I’m thankful that I have the photos as a starting point for greater discovery.

 

Day 2- Heather (it’s my Birthday, woot! woot!)

I am grateful for so many things, but today I’m talking about my friends and family. Lots of love and best wishes have arrived via snail-mail, phone, text, email, and FB. I’m reminded of all the fun, crazy, lovely times I’ve had with everyone as I’ve traveled various routes in my life. I’ve had some amazing and challenging adventures throughout these first thirty-something years and I look forward to sharing many more experiences with all my peeps, new and old.

My heart is full of joy!  And my garden if full of irises that bloomed in the early morning, just in time to greet me with such beauty on this day.

Flowers in the Garden

Lovely irises in the garden

Much love to all! Especially to my Mom & Dad, without whom I would obviously not be here.