lisamoniquekent

Finding Home

But there’s the other side.

Good evening from sweet, beautiful Vermont. Justice is defined as fairness, moral rightness. It was first used in 12th century middle English, earlier from Anglo-French justise, earlier still from Latin justitia. So the word’s been around, proving there was some use for it way back then. And still use for it now. That first syllable falls heavy on the tongue, inevitable, like it will find you, ferret you out and demand that you do the right thing in case you had other ideas. But there’s the other side. The reliability of it, your savior, should you feel out smarted, out talked, out lived. You know, in the end, somewhere, in some universe or dimension, it will be fair. An then the suffix, that i-c-e. Pulling its companion syllable out from the muddy depths to keep the ball rolling. Justice–feminine. You go, girl.

So what I’m saying is it’s my new pillar. In this blog, in addition to hearth, curiosity, and writing, I’m adding themes of justice. Life’s events have pulled me out of the cradle and onto my feet, all five feet seven inches of me standing tall, after much consideration, relying on the gift of discernment, speaking out.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

If you can’t find me on Facebook

Good morning from gray and cool Vermont. My feet are enclosed in wool, and I’ve been scouring eBay for black wool skirts and sweaters. Sure we’ll have some hot days ahead, but not many. I can’t quite believe it of myself, but I’m actually ready for fall, perhaps I know this will be my last autumn in Vermont. Or maybe it’s because my feet feel so comfortable.

These last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about closing down my blog and Facebook account. It’s not like I don’t love writing or need a break this time; it’s more because it’s difficult for me to keep up on Facebook and my emails keep getting flooded with all the posts I don’t have time to look at. But my blog feeds into Facebook and I get more readers. What to do?

My Uncle Bernard in Quebec reads my blog post every week, and that’s how I keep in touch with him, and keep him abreast of what is happening with my family. And then there is Laura far away, and I always give her the weather report. And of course there’s Janet and Bethany and all my other faithful fans who love my books and my writing. So maybe what I’ll do is this: I’ll stop Facebook and continue with my blog. That feels right.

Liv is at college now, and all is going well. Tomorrow she starts classes. It’s very strange to look in her room and not see her in there. Perhaps I’ll make her bed up today to make it look less empty. She’s happy.

I’ll stop writing now so I can work on With Regards, Stella Ramone. There’s a scene I have to rework; it focuses on diversity and as it stands, it’s inauthentic. Time to reconstruct. I leave you with one of Serena’s photos of fall. Yes, it’s coming.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home, and if you can’t find me on Facebook after this week and need to get in touch, my email is lisamoniquekent@gmail.com

Lisa

My working memory…

Good morning from rainy Vermont. Though we’ve had a wonderfully hot and sunny summer, we need rain. So though it means a day indoors, welcome rain!

This morning I crept downstairs early for quiet time. Time for reflection, writing a letter to a friend, thinking about the day ahead. I think I’ll settle onto the sofa and knit my sweater. The yarn is a variegated gray and navy bulky wool. It will be perfect for the nip of fall and full-on cold of winter. I feel the cold seeping in already in my office at work, around my feet especially. Time for little black boots and warmer socks. They are in my closet somewhere.

This week we have two major events. First, on Tuesday, I officially start counting down my year to early retirement. On Thursday, early morning, we bring Livia Miri to her dorm at UVM. (Cue into David Bowie singing his Changes song, or, in the alternative, the Grateful Dead’s line What a Long Strange Trip it’s Been.) With our celebrating 25 years of marriage last week, it has been an August full of significant days. I’m glad I have a new academic planner at work to remember everything. My working memory continues to be problematic.

You’ll have noticed I missed two weeks of blogging. I didn’t have access to a computer, so there you have it. I’m in one of those lulls where I feel I don’t have much of anything to say, with my book writing stalled out and all. Perhaps it’s time to take another break? But not yet.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

I have the chocolate-glazed macaroon of jobs.

Good morning everyone from sunlit Vermont. I’m using the new, improved version of WordPress, and I’m not quite sure if I’ll be successful. Let’s find out together.

On August 18th, the students who are returning to Northern Vermont University (numbers are unclear) will discover a new kind of library–one with red xs on the floor, a minimum of chairs, and limited access to such things as computers and printers. They’ll find that the water fountains don’t work, and the hours of operation have been reduced. They won’t be able to reach for a magazine or book without asking for help. The third floor will be off limits, and the second floor, where I am, will be severely restricted. This will be a hard change; I’m struggling myself. Do I go up the spiral stairs and down the regular stairs, or is it visa versa?

I have a sign posted on my door that says, “Hello and Welcome. Please make sure you are wearing your mask before you knock. After you knock, please step well back from the door. Thank you.” And I think I’m now in the habit of always wearing my mask when I leave my office. It gets lonely up there. I probably go downstairs to the main floor once a day to get something from the printer. Otherwise, I’m tucked away, safe from potential COVID germs. Because of Serena, I am on a strict protocol.

But shall I tell you how fortunate I am? I have an office looking over the college green. My office is filled with fresh air, plants, and lovely art. I have full-time, fascinating work. I have access to almost all the books in the world. I have the chocolate-glazed macaroon of jobs. And soon, on August 25th, I’ll be counting down from day 365 to day zero, early retirement.

I’ve been thinking about what type of job I want in Maine. Four days of office work answering one question at a time. The idea of multitasking doesn’t fly for me anymore. I like doing one thing really well, and then moving on to doing the next thing really well. So if an interviewer asks me if I can multitask, I’ll answer, “Yes, I can, but I choose not to. It’s not a healthy or productive way to approach working.” I hope that flies.

Maybe that’s what I’ll do on this blog until I start interviewing in Maine, I’ll answer a theoretical question from a theoretical employer. I certainly have a different attitude now, and am much less driven, than I was almost 15 years ago at my last interview. Hey–I just had a great idea. Why don’t you send me some interview questions so I can practice?

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

Peeling away old habits.

Good morning from rainy, humid Vermont. I’m still here, just late. Last Sunday we had to share a computer and I didn’t get to mine until, well, too late. And yesterday I hadn’t picked out the right words for this post, so I waited until this morning to get it just right.

You see, I’m going through a major transition again, and it’s called “letting go.” I thought it would be easy to see Miri off to college; after all, she is ready and I am ready, so what’s the big deal? Well, it turns out that her leaving is more than just physically leaving the nest. It means having a different kind of relationship with her. It means adult to adult. She’s not a child. She doesn’t need my advice anymore. And after reading several books (three) over the weekend about parenting adult children, I shouldn’t be giving it. The gist is to stop giving advice and keep the welcome mat open. I had half of it right!

So I’m transforming. I’m changing my frame of mind. I’m peeling away old habits. And do you know what? I feel so much lighter. When I tossed out my role as advisor, I also stopped judging. All those remarks and observations at the tip of my tongue?  They are gone. Now I can sit back and know that the raising part is done. She gets to fly, and I get to cheer her on. And all this bodes well for Serena too. She’ll be relieved that I won’t be heckling her with advice.

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t set expectations for our home. Respect, kindness, pitching in, they all stay.

I write with lightness, but this whole shift hit me so hard I had to go find an inn for a few days and catch up with my sorrow and confusion. And read three books, and get advice from my mom and and my psychologist friend. “Empty nest” is more than physical departure. Who knew?

So girls, if you are reading this, there’s a new mom in town, and I’m sorry it took getting struck on the head with a brick to come to terms with letting go. I’m still here for you–that’s certain. And that welcome mat? Definitely out.

Check in next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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A tussle of sorts.

Good morning everyone from a soon to be scorching Vermont. Meteorologists say we might see 100 degrees Fahrenheit today. I’ve seen and felt that number in other parts of the country, but never in Vermont. I hope all of our air conditioning units don’t crash the power grid.

This morning I’m at odds. I look around our home and want to get rid of more, reducing, recycling, desiring to get to that perfect number of just enough; and I am acknowledging how privileged I am that I have things to get rid of or even that mindset. What’s more important is doing the work of anti-racism, and looking racial inequity straight in the eye. So these two forces are having a tussle of sorts. Get rid of an extra spatula, hoe out the box of cleaning products from the garage, and realize how fortunate I am to aim from more to less. And ponder how I can make a difference. It’s an interesting and human dynamic. Perhaps you are familiar with it.

I just finished reading a book by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi called Stamped. I’ll be facilitating a reading discussion about it in a few months here in my community. Imagine history as a bunch of dots proceeding over time. This book revealed how many dots I was missing, having only been fed a white narrative. I’ll read it again; the first time I kept distracting myself by saying, “What??” “Really?” and “This is so bad!” This second read will help me focus more on the message. I encourage you all to read it, twice.

Liv has her college move in date, August 27th. UVM is now allowing two guests, so both Tim and I get to bring her. I’ll do the mama things like making up her bed and making sure her fridge is stocked. And once we say our goodbyes, Tim and I will go out to lunch and just be quiet together.

That’s it for this week. Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

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Everything basil.

Good morning from wet, slightly cooler Vermont. Our new, borrowed air conditioner says it is 80 degrees inside the house. So I’m blogging outside on the porch until things cool off, with Scout keeping me company. We’ve all had a heat-induced restless night. May, June, and July have brought record high temperatures in the Green Mountain State. Global warming has settled in on the sofa, lit a cigar, and taken its shoes off.

I’m working on my book again. In little increments, but progress, for sure. I like my main character, and I can see where she is going. I don’t think I’ll finish this year, but maybe early 2021. Speaking of next year, I had my first meeting with Human Resources in regard to my taking early retirement. August 25, 2021 will be my last work day for the Vermont State Colleges. I was correct in that Tim and I will have medical and dental insurance for life, and Liv will be able to finish her program tuition free at UVM. And the girls will continue to be on our insurance for a full year after my retirement date. The whole adventure pivots on whether my contract will still be in force those few months after June 30, 2021, when our current contract finishes up. I think I’ll be okay, because it usually takes several months for negotiations to end. Fingers crossed. And I hope I get a little party, because I do like cake.

Protests continue, and progress with it. I encourage you all to read the Breathe Act, important legislation addressing inequity for people of color. You can read it at https://breatheact.org  Please read it, discuss it, and support it.

Regarding COVID, I return to my office full-time this Wednesday, with no concerns, as there are only four of us in the entire library. Our country’s number of cases is going up, and my outside contact is going down. I’m not yet at the hermit stage–that’s hard to do with a family–but I am not even bothering to go into stores. The answer to “Do I really need it?” is more often than not “No.”

I end with everything basil. With Serena’s 12 plants thriving, climbing, and bushing out, we’ve had basil on pizza, basil with mozzarella and tomatoes and pesto, homemade pesto on pasta,and well, basil everything. It smells so good right now as the rain sprinkles all the leaves of the plants. This container garden idea was a popper.

Check back next week for another segment of Finding Home.

Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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

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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

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