Saturday, September 15, 2007

Grandma's Party

So another very important part of my vacation last week was of course Grandma's birthday party.

It was great seeing her. Lots of people came to her party and it was fun to see them all celebrating with her. My aunt and uncle were there, her sister and her sister's husband, her doctor, her friends from church and town, the other residents all came out for yellow cake and punch. I really enjoyed spending time with them all, but also had a little time before I left just with grandma, which was nice. I took her to her hair appointment (a novel experience for me, I'm not one for beauty parlors) and we had most of the next morning to chat and just enjoy each other's company before my flight.

The little town, Wilbur, where she lives seems to be doing better. The sidewalks have been spruced up, there's a cute, city-fied bakery, and some of the vacant lots and buildings have been cleaned up and repurposed. I spent a little time in the cemetery, which I always enjoy. The evening light was lovely, the trees as spectacular as ever--tall, luxurious contrast to the surrounding fields.


On the way home from a writers group meeting today, M and I stopped at the Glendi Ethnic Food Fair, a not-really-disguised fund- and awareness-raiser for the (American) Orthodox Church. We thought it was Greek, but it apparently has members from Greek, Russian, Serbian, Eritrean, and Middle Eastern descent. There was lovely music from a tight a cappella group, very Christian, and from a klezmer-ish group, the Brass Menazeri, that got a lot of people up and dancing in the spiraled, hand-in-hand folkdance style. I enjoyed watching the dancers, thinking how nice it was that anyone could join in, and all different combinations were holding hands--young and old, men and women, dressier and those in shorts and Birkenstocks. Leave it to M to throw some realism on it all: how inclusive are they, he wondered--do they ordain women, and what are their same views on gays? We toured both the tiny old church and the new church with a large dome still in the process of being plastered and painted. I ate piroshki, some of the best spanokpita ever, drank a couple of glasses of retsina, and have borscht (with a Dixie cup of sour cream, dill and green onions in the fridge) and baklava waiting for dinner. I also bought a dishtowel that I thought was pretty funny. As we left, we passed a set of bells that were hung from the deck by the church garden. Were they just on display for the event, or did they live out here, we wondered--and are they awaiting a steeple? There were all named (Elizabeth, Peter, Catherine), and it was difficult to resist the impulse to pull their tethers and release sounds--not very nice of a church to offer such temptation!


M was supposed to get his grades from last semester today. All of his classmates did, but he didn’t. One of his students works in the main law school office, and she told him his scores a couple of days ago, which were good (he assured me he didn't ask--she just knew he was stressed about it and offered the information)--but of course the piece of paper with the grades means all. Tomorrow will be more of the same melancholy, I suspect…


One thing on my mind of late that I suspect I'll be wrestling with for some time: productivity, and what I do with my time. A recent horoscope sums it up:

"There have never in history been so many opportunities to do so many things that aren't worth doing," wrote novelist William Gaddis. That's important for you to keep in mind during the coming weeks. You'll receive a flood of invitations, but only some of them will be intimately related to the unique work you're here on Earth to do. Those few may be so amazingly useful, though, that they could dramatically change your life for the better. Please say no to all the others so you can attend to the good stuff with your heart on fire and your mind as fluid as a mountain stream.

I've been so stressed out lately by how much time I spend on work in the past few months. That can't be the "unique work" I'm here to do, can it? And just because I'm furiously answering email and responding to questions and helping my staff--is that really the best was to spend my time at work? Can I be more effective and productive in other ways. And though I do get paid for it, does that make it far worthier than felting purses and reading and walking the dog?

I think part of my stress has also been related to my travels this month. I was of course excited about both trips, but--it's travel. And I've only just put together some of the final details on my trip to the east coast, so some of that weight has been lifted. But I realize that I'm out of city travel habit. I used to be able to estimate cab ride costs and times, how early to get to Penn Station to catch a train, how long it would take to walk eight blocks…and now I'm not so sure. But my most recent horoscope has encouraged me to embrace both good and chaos, so I can do well while having some fun, and I think I'll adopt that as my mantra for the foreseeable future.


At 7:59 PM, September 15, 2007, Blogger Michelle said...

Thanks so much for sharing the video of Grandma's birthday! I'm glad you were there to help her celebrate, I know that means a lot to her.

At 8:44 PM, September 15, 2007, Anonymous Kamala said...

I think it means a lot that you are working hard, doing a good job at it, and making money. Making money means you can visit your grandmother, stop at a craft fair, buy your yarn, etc. I'm sorry if I sound preachy! Plus, I think you'll navigate NYC just fine!


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