lisamoniquekent

Finding Home

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

A Cow’s Length Apart.

Good morning from sunny, warm Vermont. The more our governor “turns the spigot” to bring our economy up to speed, the more confused I become about masks, not particularly about wearing mine, but others not wearing them.

I don’t go out in public much. I go to work to a near empty building two mornings a week, I step out with my husband for a meal occasionally, and I go to stores maybe once every two or three weeks to pick up one specific thing. As time passes, I notice that more and more people are not wearing masks or staying six feet apart.

In his Monday, Wednesday, Friday press conferences, the governor and his health doctor tell us to continue to wear masks and to practice social distancing. They tell us this under an executive order and state of emergency. They tell us this is the best way to respect the health of others and keep the COVID numbers down. So I wear my mask and try my best to keep a cow’s length apart, thinking about people like Serena, who is so immune compromised that even the slightest brush with COVID would cause so many complications.

I’m told that wearing a mask in Vermont or staying six feet apart is not mandatory. I disagree. If the governor tells us to, then it’s not an option. He may not be enforcing it, but he still wants us to follow the protocol he is setting. He wants us to do our best to protect one another.

But even if I’m totally right here, it doesn’t reflect my experience. I am on my guard when I go out in public. I feel like I’m in fight or flight, trying to navigate away from the walking maskless, and people who crowd me. All the way around it’s uncomfortable. And I don’t understand it. Why wouldn’t Vermonters want to give people like Serena every chance at avoiding COVID?

Thus my confusion. I wear my mask so I don’t hurt others. It’s not about my freedom to express myself or proving that no one else can tell me what to do. It’s about caring for my community. It’s about being a good citizen.

The college students will return to campus in August, and there will be strict rules in place. I must set my own strict rules, keeping my office door closed for the first time ever, teaching my classes online instead of walking around the classroom, troubleshooting with students at their computers. My stomach dips just thinking of it.

Change. Challenge. Compassion. I don’t know where our future is headed. But right now, things don’t feel too good.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

IMG_2916

Lots and lots of basil.

Good morning from warm and cloudy Vermont. Some of you may have noticed that I skipped a week. That’s true; sometimes life is like that. Yesterday, on the soccer field of her high school, Livia Miri graduated. We stayed in our cars in the parking lot until our H-K lot was called to the ceremony, where we watched her get her diploma. We were then dismissed back to our cars. Tim managed to live stream the speeches on his phone, so we got the gist of everything. After, we touched base enough to grab a few photos of her in her cap and gown before she got spirited away by her friends. She seemed satisfied and happy enough, despite the circumstances. She really won’t forget this graduation. Now she’ll be focused on college, checking things off her list, saving her money. It won’t be long before I’ll be blogging on the big drop off, which, at this point, allows only one parent. We’ll have to flip a coin.

With the strong heat we’ve had, some of the pansies in my wagon died. I’ll find some time this week to replace them. Meanwhile, Serena has baby zucchinis, one pepper, cherry tomatoes, and lots and lots of basil and other herbs at her disposal. She has a green thumb, and it’s a joy to watch her tend her plants in pots. She tells me often how much more she wants to grow next year. I think we have enough pots…

I leave you with a photo of the gallery Tim created for me on my birthday. I woke up to it; somehow when he nailed and attached the frames, he didn’t make a sound.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

IMG_2938

 

 

 

 

 

In this trying time of worlding.

Good morning from sunny, cool Vermont. The New WordPress Editor is coming. Since I’ve ignored every single message I’ve received about this change, I have no idea what it means. I guess I’ll just wait to see what happens with my blog, and deal with it from there. Typical pandemic blog avoidance, or maybe it’s just me.

Today is a special day–we are celebrating Liv’s graduation from high school. The real date keeps changing (if there is one), so we thought we’d stick to the original date she would have graduated sans the pandemic. There will be cake and presents and a special meal, and lots of “Well dones!” and “Congratulations.” Our generally quiet family will make a lot of good noises. Today is Liv’s dancing day.

Tomorrow is mine; I turn 58. I like being in my late fifties. I can contemplate, reflect, review, and hope. Since I’ve been stretching and dancing every day, I don’t feel all arthritic like I did when I started this year. All things considered, I expect that 58 will feel pretty good. And Tim makes excellent birthday cakes. I even have a present or two and cards to open. The love here is good.

I started my life struggling; my mom tells me my umbilical cord wrapped around my little neck three times, and it took a painful labor and good doctor skills to get me righted. She tells me it was a miracle that I lived, and that for the longest time my back and neck were a deep blue color from lack of oxygen. What’s better to remember was that I was the sixth child and still very much welcomed and wanted. Except for my brother—he was heartbroken that I was another girl. I’m sure Mom was very tired by then, even though she was only twenty-nine.

I have to wonder what parts of my brain got damaged at birth. I seem to have compensated well, and Mom never mentioned that I missed any milestones. If I asked her now, she’d probably stay I skipped the milestones all together trying to keep up with my sisters. Whatever harm I got, I’ll never know, and that’s okay. I have enough on my plate.

So here’s to graduations and birthdays, and protests that bring change. Here’s to all that we can celebrate in this trying time of worlding. I leave you with one of my favorite photos. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

IMG_1293 (1)

 

 

 

 

“I can’t breathe.”

Good morning everyone. I write today with great sorrow and shame for the harm I’ve caused to people of color because of the whiteness of my own skin. If you believe that by being human we are all connected, which I do, then you and I, we share the knee that crushed the neck of George Floyd. We share the brutality of all the whites who enslaved, oppressed, battered, and killed, and continue to do so, our brothers and sisters of color. We made George Floyd’s family cry.

Jim Crow, redlining, gerrymandering, economic repression, lack of resources for medical care, food deserts, unjust incarcerations and paroles, the unequal punch of COVID 19, why do we collectively continue to keep refusing the moral path of human equality? Why do we collectively resist seeking forgiveness, making amends, and changing our trajectory regarding our country’s history? What is wrong with us? 

I posit that we are afraid. We are afraid to let go of our ways because we too might feel the pain and pinch of “less.”  We are afraid to let go because true equality overturns our positions of white power, power that many of us currently delight in and enjoy. Or perhaps we fear retribution, that we ourselves might one day feel the chilling pain of a knee to our neck as we whisper for the last time, “I can’t breathe.”

We cannot change the values of others; that comes from within. But we can change our own personal actions to promote anti-racism. How? By becoming allies. Supporting our brothers and sisters of color in every situation and circumstance we can. There’s a simple formula created by Savonne Anderson for being an ally. 1. Be willing to listen and learn. 2. Help open up spaces without taking them over. 3. Do your research. 4. Resist the “white savior” complex. 5. Start in your own circle.

So, dear readers, you are my circle. Please become an ally. Take the next small right step. For me, that was writing this letter to you and acknowledging my sinfulness. I know this is a far cry from how I usually blog. Normally I focus on the hearth and home, writing, curiosity, learning, etc. But this earth is also my home and yours too, a home populated beautifully by a diverse collection of human colors.

My daughters pushed me to write about George Floyd. They challenged me to step out of my comfortable white, safe, middle class box and respond to this particular injustice. Without their prodding, I would have stayed silent, distraught yes, but silent. I would have also tried to shower off my white skin to scrub away my culpability. Perhaps with my prodding, you’ll respond to this injustice too.

I am a librarian. If you need resources to get started, please just ask. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

 

 

The Last Viewing.

Good morning from cool and partly sunny Vermont. Yesterday I hugged my mom. And my sister gave me some of her hand me downs. Tim and Serena also programmed my new phone, and while I was cleaning up the kitchen last night, I attached my headphones and listened to my Spotify play list. The sound quality was excellent, and I lost myself to the crooning of Linda Ronstadt and Noah Kahan. I also played with Serena’s camera. Below you’ll see a photo of my new office chair, the one that almost got away.

But now it’s time to talk about something much more serious, The Last Viewing.

There will be another death in the family next week. St. Teresa’s church will be pulled down, destroyed, and obliterated–with no trace left behind. In 1872 or close to it, people like my great grandfather pooled what little money they had, and with the help of the Protestants just up the road, built a place of worship and gathering for Catholics.

My grandfather took care of the building. My dad took care of it. My cousin Francois and I even helped to paint it one summer, listening to Montreal’s CHOM on a hot afternoon. I was baptized there, had my sacraments there, and sang in and led many choirs. Births celebrated, deaths mourned, the church’s simple wooden structure soaked with prayers, tears and music. All to be demolished by a parish council far removed from the church’s history and extraordinary relevance to once was a strong, vibrant group of people. And why? To get the best price for the land it sits on. Greed.

The gutting of a community and the murder of  a sacred place. I am raw with the thought of it. Today we’ve been given some time to say our goodbyes. As if that could console us. As if that could mollify us. No thank you. I won’t be witness to such desecration. But I will grieve, not just for myself, but for all the other members (and their descendants) of that very special singing church. I’m sure that as St. Teresa falls, you’ll hear the haunting sounds of organ and guitar playing their last song.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

IMG_2852 (1)

My noisy pansies.

Good afternoon from beautiful warm and sunny Vermont. I’m out on our little porch writing in the silence of all the neighborhood toddlers napping. Soon they will be out with their parents and brothers and sisters, shrieking and jabbering like my own toddlers did at that age. For me, their noise, the silence, both are good.

This morning I drove northwest to visit with my sister in her lovely garden shed. Shed is not the correct word, because it’s actually a little one-room cottage with white chairs, pink cushions, and my dad’s old tools displayed on the framework of a side wall. She served me black tea and homemade coffee cake, all with graceful social distancing. We walked her flower gardens and she told me stories about the plants. I was so happy to be there catching the merry little breezes in the shed, talking, enjoying such a nice spring drive both ways, and then heading home to my own noisy pansies as they bloomed with much fanfare in my red Radio Flyer wagon.

And to think, that was just the beginning of the excitement. When I returned, my husband having informed me that 1) it was time to upgrade my phone (I trust him implicitly on these types of matters), and 2) my iPad had died and he couldn’t fix it, I pulled up the Tracfone website and had a nice long e-chat with a representative. The representative was very patient, even when I asked if the phone I was thinking of purchasing could fit in my purse.

I picked out a Samsung, Tim approved, and then, imagine such blessings, I ordered a pair of earphones as well. So now I’ll be able to download audio books on my phone, listen to them with my headphones, listen to my Spotify playlist through my phone in Mrs. Potts, and even have a GPS to get me to places unknown. Serena and Tim promise that they will help me get all set up, and they will teach me how to use everything. This accounts for big news at our house. We don’t buy things often.

I haven’t written much on With Regards, Stella Ramone. When I try, it all sounds like “blah, blah, blah.” So that’s it then, I’m in my “blah” period, which means I can focus on other things like reading about urban gardening and building up my repertoire on Dad’s guitar. Or sorting through my clothes and passing them on if they don’t quite fit anymore (which, unfortunately is a thing). Somehow I went into fall with five summer dresses fitting, and came into spring with just one left on the hanger. I guess I’ll have to dance more vigorously when I stop for my 2 PM daily work break.

I’m still working from home; the college is still in flux. At the same time, I’m living with the uncertainty. Aren’t we all?

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

bleeding hearts

 

 

 

 

 

My red cleaning bucket.

Good morning from possibly sunny Vermont. The temperature is getting warmer here in Morrisville, and I’m finding myself pulled to the porch chairs, morning, noon, and night. Right now our porch is surrounded by various containers filled with garden soil. There’s my dad’s sap bucket, my red cleaning bucket (received as a gift and working hard since 1987), two cracked flower planters, the large tin I showed you last week, and a few other odds and ends. And we have plants too! One zucchini, a red pepper, two basils, a cilantro, a dill, two cherry tomato plants (one yellow, one red), and at least one more I can’t readily remember. The whole container garden business is really Serena’s deal, but I’m playing back up on her bad days. I’m curious as to what we actually harvest.

Going to the garden store was frightening. I’ve only been out in public three times since the virus hit, and each time there has been little social distancing, varied use of masks, and a strange lack of courtesy. What the governor is saying and what I’ve experienced hasn’t matched up. Underneath my mask, I’ve made some terrible faces–frowns, fear, and outright bewilderment. Is it me not able to relax or is the general public slacking off? Perhaps it’s a combination of both.

I thought I was returning to work tomorrow, but no. I am home for May, it appears. I’m so grateful for my little office desk and the routine I’ve created there. At the same time, I miss my coworkers, students, and instructors. I miss college life! We Zoomed with our work study students last week, and they were resigned and down of heart. Of course they were. We still don’t know what’s happening with our campus in regard to the virus or the closing. Unsettling times.

I leave you with a photo of my favorite garden store in Maine. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

IMG_1872

 

 

 

Poor man’s fertilizer.

Good morning from cloudy Vermont. For those of you who are out of state, we had blizzard-like conditions yesterday, and all of us native Vermonters are glad we didn’t plant our annuals early. My dad used to call snow like this poor man’s fertilizer. I don’t know what that means, but it must be something to do with the nitrogen in the snow? Hmm. I wish I could ask him.

Today is Mother’s Day. I wish all of you had the same relationship with your mother as I do with mine, sheer joy at having this 87-year old wonder woman in my life. But relationships are complicated–I know that, especially as I maneuver through and work to improve my relationships with my own daughters. In any case, I hope you all have just the kind of day you need.

As long as the governor agrees, I return to my office in the library next Monday, after this last full week at home. It’s a topsy-turvy time these days regarding the success of the Vermont State Colleges. All I know is that we will be open for another academic year, but we will have another severe budget cut, and I was the last hired. Though uncertainty gives me stomach aches, I have a robust Plan A regarding moving to Maine. Really we just have one last piece to put into effect and then we are ready to go whenever. Even my resume is spiffy. So all of you, watch me shine as I make this long-term transition into a new life!

I haven’t written much on my new book, because I’ve been knitting and listening to an audio book. That’s what I plan to do with any free time today. knit and listen. And because I was starving for new reading material (the libraries are closed, remember) I splurged and ordered some books of stories on my new passion (really an old one from prior blogs) urban gardening.

Well, that’s it for this week. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

P.S. It just started snowing again. Sigh!

container garden

 

 

All my callouses are gone.

Good morning from cloudy, warmer Vermont. Yesterday and its blue skies, crisp winds, and warmer temperatures reminded me so much of similar mornings growing up on Sunny Side Farm. We’d be up early, my sister and I, have our breakfast, get our school paraphernalia ready to go, and wait for the cows to start coming out of the barn. Out we’d go. Gisele would head up the road to the gate, and I would wait for Dad to lead them up to the driveway to our house, where he turned off to head to breakfast, and I took over to drive them up to the open gate.

Was I six, or ten? It doesn’t matter because I did this for years. The cows, mostly Holsteins, were bigger than I was. Some of them had big, nasty horns. Imagine the adrenaline and fear I felt. Would a cow turn on me? What if one crashed through the fencing that lined the road? And of course, there was this ever present concern. Would I get poop on my sneakers?

Gisele was always there, steady on, with the gate open and facing her own fears as our herd of cows came at her. She was stronger than I, so she had the task of closing the gate by pulling the barbed-wire line taught and hooking the handle to its clasp. Then we’d run home to pick up our school stuff and wait for the bus. Sometimes the bus would have to wait for the cows to enter their new pasture. The driver would ride ahead and sit in the driveway until we could catch up and get on the bus. Often the other children would moo at us and tell us we smelled like cows. That was probably true.

But that’s not what I remembered yesterday. I recalled instead the beautiful mornings when I could see every spiderweb delicately attached to the fence line, wondering, always wondering, how the spiders didn’t get shocked. The many birds alighting on the fence posts, chattering and chirping as I passed by–yellow finches, wrens, sparrows, swallows, a rare cardinal or bluejay. Thistles with their pink blossoms spiking up in the pasture; they weren’t supposed to be there. Buttercups mixing with alfalfa as the fields grew their tall grasses. The hard, firm feel of the dirt road as I ran home. The relief of another successful herd drive.

Looking back, it was a bittersweet way to grow up, facing my fears amidst shear beauty. I have so many farm stories in me; all of my sisters and brother do, and our five cousins, who shared the farm with us. In the summer, when I drive by farmhands picking up hay bales and piling them on a wagon, I get the urge to stop, to help. But I’m a city girl now, and I don’t keep gloves, old jeans, and tees in my car anymore. And tractors’ shifting mechanisms have advanced since I drove our old Massey Ferguson.

But I have to say, transitioning from full-time farming to caring for my two little outdoor planters and my inside plants has been a process, a letting go, a settling from hard and wondrous nature to the ease and forlorn feeling of standing on the sidelines. All my callouses are gone.

And so I wish you all a good week as we continue to shelter in place. I may be returning to work on May 11, if our governor allows. Check back next Sunday for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

File:Spiderweb.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

Living in a space colony.

Good morning from cloudy Vermont. Wasn’t yesterday a fine day? I sat outside for part of the morning, and then Tim and I took a trip to Newport to sit on a bench near the lapping waves of Lake Memphremagog. Social distancing wasn’t hard, as there were just a few people in the park. It’s true that we did travel more than two miles. It was either that or lose our sanity.

I’m starting to struggle with being inside so much. I understand the impulse to gather in groups and hug and touch again. To go back to the office and converse with coworkers. This new normal that we are in, well, it’s wearing thin. At the same time, that’s what we must do right now, for maybe another month or even two. I’m going to have to brainstorm to come up with ideas to manage. Even with all my hobbies and interests, they are barely enough to keep me centered at home. Of course, all of you are probably feeling the same thing. In worse circumstances. It’s obvious that I’m not a candidate for living in a space colony.

By the way, we rose up as a community to tell our chancellor that what he was proposing, shutting down three colleges, was unacceptable. He withdrew his proposal. Now the legislature is involved. It looks like we have a year to steady the course and make the changes necessary for the colleges to thrive. We are all in.

I wish you all a good week, wherever you are and however you are sheltering. Me, I’ll be the one at home waiting for our governor to turn the spigot enough so I can get back to my office, give my mom a hug, have breakfast club with my daughter at our favorite diner, and take trips to Maine with Mrs. Potts. And get my hair cut! All for now,

Lisa

rain-1640546_960_720

 

 

 

Post Navigation

Assortment

Finding Home

barcelona flaneuse

I've been to Barcelona three times and I'm ready to return!

down to earth

Finding Home

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.