Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ragged Edge of Silence: Chapter Three

I am making slow work of The Ragged Edge of Silence. Today I read chapter three, "Life in a Journal." John Francis, the author, was inspired early in life to start keeping journals by a dentist who became his mentor. I have on occasion tried to keep a journal, but until I started blogging, I never sustained it. I kept this blog regularly for a year and am now keeping my dadding one going. Like Francis, I have found my journal is a "gateway to the unconscious and to inner life." I often find that I discover meaning as the words unfold on the screen before me.

However, it is how he used his journal to interact with others that made me restart reading this book and try to follow the lessons he provided. He would take his journal to town and listen to the compliments and criticisms, and because he had chosen to not speak, he realized he was truly listening to others for the first time in his life. He was not listening to form an argument. He was not listening to interrupt, He was just listening, and in doing so he was hearing people fully. This passage struck me deeply. I have often not listened well to people, and it is something with which I continue to struggle. It was this passage that resonated with a truth I needed to hear and had been spoken to me before in ways I couldn't hear quite as well. I am glad I have read it again, and I have now copied that section and posted it above my computer screen so I can see it regularly.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Of Birthdays and Bread

Rose turns four on Tuesday, so her party was today. Huge crowd. Here are some pics.

Cutting the cake to very eager onlookers. This is Rose's first official birthday cake. Last year it was muffins. Reena made the cake, and we made the frosting and decorated it together. Rose enjoyed it.

Also, Reuben has started to fuss extremely at meals. It turns out he wants to hold the food and take bites. He still takes too big bites, but understanding will come in time.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Kids

We are wearing sun hats these days because we are going out in the sun!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Ragged Edge of Silence: Chapter Two.

In January, I posted about a book I started to read a while ago and to which I wanted to return. The Ragged Edge of Silence has sat from that time on top of the shelf in the living room. I see it and want to get back to it, but I have not. As I continue to try to focus on what are my main priorities, this becomes an unacceptable state. I know there is something in this book for me; thus I must take it up again.

Chapter two chronicles John Francis' decision to be silent more than a day, more than a week, and finally to his next birthday. He also walks 30 miles to present his art and his silence to a friend's class at Sonoma State College. One of the most interesting things in this chapter, to me, is peoples' reactions to his decision to be silent and how some of these reactions change over time. In his decision to extend his silence, Francis frames it as an experiment to feel more at ease and to make others more at ease with this change, but he also touches on how being silent did not still the conversations in his head but made them even more present while creating a sense of an altered state.

The exercise in chapter two relates to his two day walk to get to Sonoma State to present. On this walk, he was rewarded with new vistas and the feel of air on his skin. The objective is, "Discovering yourself in your body, as an extension in the environment where we live."

This is especially interesting to me right now having just returned from St. Louis which is surprisingly similar in temperature right now; both Boston and St. Louis are unseasonably warm.

In St. Louis I took many walks, I breathed in the air, reveled in the glorious redbuds, magnolias, and other signs of full-on spring. Upon my return, I was surprised by the magnolias here in their early prime. They often get short changed by frost or heat.

The birds, too, are different. I awoke each day in St. Louis to the amazing dawn chorus. This morning, there were monotone chirps at first light. It was incredible how the melodies of the St. Louis birds reached inside me and calmed my spirit.

Today in Boston, it is warm. I went outside, with a monitor set on silent to keep an eye on the sleeping Reuben, and extended my senses. The earth is warm and beckons me to work in it. I feel it as though the barrier of my skin is just an idea. The light breeze blows just right, temperature and force, that it too passes through me. This is the time of year I am most alive, most connected to the natural environment. I don't feel too connected to the trucks bumping over the raised crosswalk or the inharmonious recorder lessons going on in the school across the street. Yet on a day like this, those things are reside only on the surface and disappear easily.

Thinking more on this, though, I realize that it is just being outdoors that brings my senses on line. A few years ago, Reena and I dovetailed our work schedules, and I could walk to work and then take Rose home in a stroller several days a week. This hour-long walk happened in all seasons, and I acquired gear to keep her and me comfortable in any type of weather. It was a wondrous element of that year. I didn't just see the seasons change, I walked though them. I saw the very early signs of spring emerging from the snowy landscape amidst the gray drizzle. I saw the fleeting shapes of ice carved by running water, I saw the leaves turn and fall and crumble slowly to earth, I saw the slow rise and fall of the Earth's lungs for one cycle in ways I had not before. And when in her grasp, I felt most at peace--rain, fog, snow, sun, mud, whatever the day brought.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Caps for Sale

Reuben enjoyed carrying Grandad's hat around on his head today.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

St. Louis trip- Thursday

We got up at 5:15, got out the door by 5:45, and made the airport easily in time to add Reuben as a lap child at the ticket counter and get through security with time to spare for a bagel at Dunkin Donuts. On the plane, Rose mostly listened to tunes while Reuben mostly modulated between whimpering and screaming. Luckily the plane was only half full, and most of that half was sitting in the other half of the plane. We were near the back next to a very nice father who helped with the bags and a student who is working with toddlers in her education program. They, and the flight crew, were charmed with Rose.

Reuben, doing his best pale man from Pan's Labyrinth imitation, was another story. His teething was really difficult, and he did not rest. Instead he vocalized and squirmed most of the flight. The surrounding people were very tolerant. Amazingly, the one time I took him to the lavatory, he was very calm. Usually airplane lavatories wig him out.

Upon arrival, Rose greeted her grandma with her usual and effusive, "Grandma, Grandma, Grandma," as she ran from security to the waiting arms for a hug. People around chuckled and smiled. Reuben fell asleep in the stroller while I worked to install the new car seat for him. He transferred to it and stayed asleep.

St. Louis is significantly warmer and further along in the spring season than Boston. Upon arriving home, we immediately put on shorts, or in Reuben's case shed everything but the short-sleaved onesy.

There was no continuing the nap for Reuben, and Rose was pushing boundaries to see what she could get away with. Pooping in the potty instead of the toilet, using impolite language--these may seem trivial to others, but they have been major work in our house. With the volume increasing and the boundaries pushing, I opted for my walk in the Loop. Grandma will love them and not have any of the triggers I have. She also hasn't been cooped up with a screaming Reuben for three hours.

The Loop. It is one of the core elements of what I call home. There are some establishments that have been there since I was a kid, many new ones, and significant change over time. What was once a scary place for visitors and admittedly a pretty shady area has now become one of the nation's hottest streets. In the process it lost some of its charm as well as some of its violence. More on Loop history.

At the top of my street, the University City City Hall, the former Women's Magazine headquarters, is one of the most prominent landmarks in my mental geography. Here it is framed by blossoming trees.

Next to the city hall is the library. This was my second home growing up. The children's section still has the reading bathtub and the same tables at which I sat as a child. On my walk down memory lane, these two buildings along with the adjacent elementary school are still the most powerful. Each time I visit, they evoke memories I forgot I had.

My former elementary school, Delmar-Harvard, is now closed. The playground is dismantled, and there is a fence posted, "No Trespassing." One lone jungle gym stands, painted in rainbow hues after I left. The many play structures of my day were torn down for parking for the adjacent police department or replaced by newer pre-fab structures. The huge railroad tie structures designed and built by parents when I was there are ghosts in a generation's memory.

The Ward building, at one point the University City Senior High and then part of Delmar-Harvard was turned into apartments and space for Washington University Art Department. I wonder what will become of the Delmar and Harvard buildings. Anyone who went there, do you remember the tunnel?

I have posted before about the many places I love in the Loop. I was even there to see the destruction of the Cricket Walk entrance which has now been replaced by a slightly eerie sculpture of Chuck Berry.

One of the things I love about this area are all the architectural details that give it character.