Friday, November 14, 2014

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Sunship Earth

A cool leaf I found. The kids were really into finding and discussing cool leaves.
We go through our regular lives, busy, little ups, little downs, hustling. But once in a while, we’re given some special experience beyond all that. I had such an experience recently when I chaperoned my daughter’s class trip to a program called Sunship Earth.

It’s an intensive five-day sleep-away “school in the woods” that takes city kids to the country (out of town a ways, in the middle of pretty-much-nowhere) and immerses them in a world of trees and meadows and bayous and pinecones and wildflowers and birds and a night sky full of stars; no whiteboards or binders, no phones or iPads or watches (I didn’t know what time it was the entire “non-time” I was there), just hands on visceral experience.

The days were intricately choreographed, activities from the moment the kids woke up to when they hit their bunks at night. (They slept very well.) Lots of games (and catchy songs). Tons of fun. But the games had a purpose. While having all that fun, the kids’ brains were secretly being crammed full of seriously legit earth science knowledge, a sly brilliant curriculum. And there were quieter times, moments for them to share what they’d seen, late-night stories, evenings around campfires (the best built campfires I’ve ever seen; I studied their construction carefully).

We chaperones were “Crew Leaders”, each in charge of our own gaggle of five or six kids (the same kids for the duration of the program; by the end, we were a tight little posse). And the adults were just as immersed as the kids: joining in all the activities, right alongside, silly as can be; dining with them (the food was great); bunking with them (the boys room got kind of funky; apparently ten-year-old boys, when left to their own devices, maintain less than perfect hygiene). The staff was wonderful. And of course, the kids were fantastic: sweet, rambunctious, excited, hilarious; a pleasure. (On a personal note, having recently lost my dear old aunt, it was wonderful to be amongst such youth and energy. Perhaps the perfect counterpoint.)

It was wildly fun, surprisingly moving, exhilarating, exhausting. (I could really gush at length, but I’m trying to tone it down.) I’ll never forget it.

(If you’re feeling charitable, may I enthusiastically encourage you to consider a donation to T.R.E.E., the program’s parent organization that makes the magic happen. It would truly be money well spent.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Evening Haiku: Lively and Mannered

Lively and mannered —
Blue hat, green jacket, red lips.
"A martini, please."

Monday, October 13, 2014

Goodbye, Annou

It's taken me a little while to write this post. My dear dear aunt, Annou, passed away. A few facts about Annou:
  1. She was profoundly unique. That's not a cliché. The world has never before nor ever again will see another Annou.
  2. She had a PhD in philosophy and taught logic.
  3. She was the most illogical person I’ve ever known.1
  4. In her later life, she couldn't hear a damn thing. For her birthday, we got her one of those little handheld whiteboards and some markers (not the most sentimental gift, but it proved extremely useful in the next couple of months, scribbling messages back and forth).
  5. She lived independently until almost the very end.
  6. Her house was truly southern gothic (and a touch Faulknerian).
  7. She was the first person I knew to get an iPhone.
  8. She was the first person I knew to get a Prius.
  9. She introduced me to the works of Hiroshige.
  10. She, like me, was a total Japan-o-phile.
  11. She loved her Mac products.
  12. She didn't really know how to use her Mac products. Well, she actually could work them fine for many purposes, but she often got jumbled. She was convinced she had an electronics poltergeist in her house.
  13. She drank Beefeaters martinis on the rocks with olives, and she always gave the gin-soaked olives to the girls.
  14. She would sometimes demand that you write a haiku, right there on the spot.
  15. She was one of the last of the old French Creoles.
  16. She remained, in some way, eternally young.
I could add a thousand more details, but I think I'll leave it there. Goodbye, Annou.

1 We had countless good-natured arguments about various topics,a often philosophical, but  ranging broadly. When I was about twelve, we got in an argument about rock stars and pheromones. She said she believed that rock stars were popular, because when they played concerts, they released a lot of pheromones. I countered that this was obviously false: most fans never actually have close physical proximity to their adored rock stars. Photos and film are all they ever experience. No pheromones whatsoever. She didn’t accept my reasoning.b
a Sometimes I legitimately disagreed with her. Other times she simply set me up as her straw man opponent and lectured me at length (mock-seriously) on some point that I actually completely agreed with. When I was young, we argued verbally. Later in life, when she couldn’t hear, we sometimes argued by email. We volleyed forty-plus emails regarding Dedekind. (I was right. She was totally wrong. Arguing that before any given point, there must be a single last preceding point? Absurd!) 
b Much later, when I was a young adult, on one of her free-associative diatribes, she proclaimed that pheromones couldn’t possibly cause the popularity of rock stars because most fans never come close to their idols. I totally busted her on her unwitting flip-flop.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Morning Haiku: The Lightest Rain Falls1

The lightest rain falls.
The sky gray; the air whisps cool.
Fall greets us at last.

1 My dear aunt is in the hospital right now, very sick, an unfun business. She loves haikus. Many a Sunday lunch, we sat together, as she sipped her Beefeater martini on the rocks with olives, passing a sheet of paper around, upon which she demanded, then and there, that we compose haikus. We mostly indulged her. Good, bad, or indifferent, I dedicate these haikus to her.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Morning Haiku: My Camo Snuggie

As Seen on TV,
Light dappling the forest floor,
My camo Snuggie.1

1 Though fitting the form (if you pronounce “dappling” with two syllables, “dap-ling,” instead of three, “dap-ul-ing”), I’m not sure this exactly follows the spirit of the haiku. But it is a sincere expression of the respect and affection I feel for my camouflage Snuggie, which I have donned this early morning for the first time since last winter. The current temperature is seventy degrees, which is almost the sixties, which by my standards, is cold. (Ah, and it is the autumn equinox. I suppose that is an appropriate time for the onset of Snuggie season.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pocket Doodles

I’ve been having my fun for a while  iDoodling on the iPad (and previously on the iPhone), but of late I’ve returned to pen and paper. Not a judgement on the merits of one or the other. Just a shifting whim, for whatever reason. And I’ve been carrying around a little sketchbook and pen in my back pocket, in which I doodle little pictures of folks I see (or make up). They’re nothing fancy, crude sketches, but it’s fun to do, makes one notice and think about people and their details and quirks. (And when you start really looking, people sure do have a whole lot of details and quirks.)1

1 Totally tangentially, I’m officially cold right now. It’s 5:20 in the morning, I’m sitting outside, and I’m cold. (I put on a sweater!) Admittedly, I’m the guy who’s always chilled, when everyone else is warm, but this is decidedly not New Orleans summer weather. (Whoah! I just looked at the date, and it’s already late September? I guess it’s about time for the seasons to start getting mixedy-uppedy again.)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Morning Haiku1

On the balcony,
The moon above the willow,
A truck rattles by.

1 Your turn?

Reunited And It Feels So Good

The reunion: I confess, some part of me dreaded it. Would we all look old and fat? Would it be socially awkward?1 But people looked great, better than ever. (College kids often make horrible aesthetic choices.) And it’s amazing how, with the people one knew well, it’s like no time passed at all. Conversation flows as easily as ever.2 Old friends. The old school. Truly gratifying.3 (It took me a couple of days to get around to posting because I returned absolutely exhausted — way too much fun crammed into way too little time.)

1 And I’m pathologically bad with faces and names, and I had an anticipatory fear that I would make some blunder and completely blank on someone who I was supposed to know well.a (I was at a distinct disadvantage because I’m not a regular Facebook user and haven’t been tracking these peoples lives for the past however-many years.) But all the faces and names gelled quickly, and there was nought to worry about. (There were only a couple of people who I had trouble placing, and in my defense, I only knew them tangentially, and they had gone through major stylistic overhauls, glamming up significantly since their college years.)
a I should mention that we went to St. John’s College, which is a teeny-tiny school, and everybody knew everybody.b
b I should also mention that St. John’s is where The Lady and I met.
2 Of course, there was a fair bit of drinking, which tends to speed along this re-bonding.

3 The girls came along. They acted like the whole thing was way too dorky and lame and adult-ish, but in truth, I think they were busily soaking it all in.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Twenty Years

We're at out twenty-year. Lovely seeing the old school and old friends. But holy crikey! Two decades! How much time has passed. How different life is now. We were such babies then. Each era has/had its joys and challenges. But it's been a long road (and if we're lucky will be a much longer road; how 'bout that fiftieth reunion?). Holy crikey! Two decades!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014