Monday, February 26, 2007

Mouse 2

We found a dead mouse in the living room this morning. We've seen no signs of mice this winter, so I believe that Tarzan killed it outside and brought it in as a love offering through his special portal. I feel terrible because I didn't help at all.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hoop skirt

All the schools were closed last week for February break. I held a Fantastic February History Camp at the museum for kids who couldn't go away. We learned about the different people who lived in the house from 1740 to about 1870, namely a Colonial family, occupying British soldiers, spies, slaves, a Victorian family, and numerous Irish servants. We hauled water, carried wood, made inkwells, wrote with quills, made scones and cornbread, made a Victorian trinket box, played penny whistles and had a tea party.

My friend Mary Kay, who is a consumate seamstress and garment creator, lent us a Civil War day dress, hoop skirt and corset, which the accountant modeled. The kids jumped up and followed her through the Victorian hall. There's nothing like an authentic reproduction garment to light people's imagination.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Persian New Year

The Iranian New Year is coming up in about a month. The timing is the best of any culture I've encountered -- it happens on the first day of spring.

Since it is actually a Zoroastrian festival, we know that it pre-dates the arrival of Islam to the area. After Khomenei seized power in 1979, this hugely popular traditional family day was frowned upon because it was secular.

In 1979 I was living in France, where waves of young Iranians sought refuge from the fundamentalist revolution. I made several Iranian friends that year, and then when I returned to the USA, I met more.
They invited me on picnics and to parties where we ate in a big circle on the ground. During dessert and tea they took turns reciting favorite verses from Rumi or Hafez by heart. They taught me how to cook and how to dance. They introduced me to a version of Islam that was kind of like my father's Judaism: cultural, but not literal.

Best of all, they introduced me to the Persian New Year called "NoRuz." It's all about new life, growth, seeds, health, and long life. The center of No Ruz is the "Haft Seen," or the Table of Seven S's" My drawing below includes some of them, but not all.
Look here for a detailed description.

Right around this time each year I begin preparations for my Haft Sin, which I assemble to welcome in the new year and to honor the beauty that Iran has brought into my life since 1979. I'll start my seeds in about two weeks, and then I'll have to borrow a fish. If you have kids, or if you ARE a kid, make a Haft Sin this year. It's really fun.
It makes me sad that Iran and Iraq have been so vilified in these decades, now I worry that Turkey will be next. Their cultures have so much to teach us. If you have an Iranian restaurant in your town, be sure to visit on the first day of spring. Say "No Ruz Mobarak!"

Monday, February 12, 2007


Click for a larger view. A mouse died somewhere in the floorboards under my desk. It has been a trying experience to spend 8 hours a day with the smell. I have faith that the corpse will dry out eventually.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

lovey dovey

Cupid visited our house last week. My husband bought me roses and freesias (my favorite flower) and champagne. We celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary at a nice hotel, more in love than we have ever been.

By the way, I painted this with a new set of acrylics that my friend Terry sent from Madison. Really exciting.

Kathy, chapter 4

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Kathy, chapter 3

The real shock was seeing the empty bed after they took her body away.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Kathy, chapter 2

I worried about Kathy, but she urged us to go on with our lives. My students wrote stories for her in French -- she was an accomplished linguist and also adored kids. She sent a soap bubble machine and Hershey's kisses back to them. Delight.

One day in October, I was in Cincinnati teaching a French II class. The secretary came to my door with tears in her eyes. "You have a phone call down in the office," she said.

My best student stood up to take over the class. The secretary was carrying a box of tissues and she supported me as we walked toward the office. I picked up the phone. It was my sister Susan, who was in Boston helping Kathy. "You need to come now," she said, her voice telling all. My legs collapsed, and several teachers helped me to stand up. That evening I flew to Boston where my parents and siblings were at her bedside.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Kathy, chapter 1

My sister's slow death by scleroderma sits in my memory in a series of icons. I have carried these images in my head for the seven years since she left her body. I accept death, but I am not fond of it. I even accept her death, and at the same time, I miss her every day, no exaggeration.
I woke up suddenly at 3:15 the other night, came downstairs, and started to draw. Somehow, after seven years, the time was right. My drawing has improved enough that I can almost draw what I see in my mind's eye. I also credit my blogging community. I feel increasingly free to draw, to feel, to express. I feel less alone, more part of a tribe.
This is chapter one of four