Word Winding

attempting to spin cacophony into sanity

Archive for the tag “UU”

Finding My Nice Magic

Today I saw a friend I had originally met at Meeting. She asked what I am doing these days to nurture my spiritual side, and I said I had spent awhile at UU, and then recently had sort of fallen out of the habit, at least for now.

“I guess I’m just getting better at finding it myself, you know?” I said. She nodded; she totally knew.

There is nothing wrong with a structured spiritual community. And I would not be surprised if the desire to seek it out returns at some point down the line. But I’m just not feeling the need right now. More than that, I am feeling strongly lured by simpler, less formal things. Hiking in Annadel or visiting the creek. Risking waking the kids by sawing my strings late at night. Basking in the joy of my favorite people. Writing music, writing words. Becoming ensnared in my daughter’s lively hazel eyes. Feeling my son’s heavy, sleepy head against my heart, his heartbeat pulsing against my sternum in just exactly the place where all of this delightful opening up is happening.

I often tell my students not to pin their hopes on perfection. Something is bound to go wrong in any performance. Instead, focus is better spent learning to recover as seamlessly as possible from any mistake. I also try to warn them that holding back out of fear only strangles their tone.

Things are still as challenging as ever around here, really. I still lose my temper too often. I still make mistakes, occasionally colossal ones. But I am more graceful in my recovery, more earnest in my approach. I hold back a little less each day, I am sure of that. My tone, like that of my students, is improving.

One day I shall be the sort of mother-wife-teacher-friend I was born to be. And then some. I have potential coiled tightly within me. I am learning to twist the locks.

I am finding it.

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(They were squabbling despite attempted interventions, I told them if they were not going to follow my suggestions I was going to leave the room and they could find their own solution. This is what transpired when I peeked back in at them a few moments later.)

Owlet: Mommy, I got back into my nice magic.

Me: Your nice magic?

Owlet: Yeah. Because I have a switch in me, and it goes, and then I slowly get back to my nice magic.


Farewell, Small Sock

Today, I bade farewell to a small, much-loved friend:


This diminutive rocket-ship was once one of a proud matched set, its non-skid “321” (blast-off) the finishing touch on my infant daughter’s tiny foot.

It was my very favorite of all the bitty socklets. Until one day its twin vanished.

One day… nearly three years ago. And yet I squirreled it away in the back of first Owlet’s and then Platypup’s dresser drawer, cherishing an ever-dwindling hope for the lost sole’s triumphant return.

(Pun intended.)

Platypup’s monster claws have certainly outgrown it by now. There are no immediate plans for additions to our family.

I knew the lone sock and I were soon to part. As twilight encroached on our time together, I occasionally brainstormed one or another potential uses for the poor matchless thing. Nothing felt quite right.

And then the call went out to bring a small meaningful object to the UU “Ingathering” service to form a sort of collage/time capsule hybrid, which is apparently the custom each September.

You know what I chose.

In honor of the cuddly babe whose toes it once warmed.
In honor of the imperfections, the failures, the unfixable moments.
In honor of the inherent dissimilarity of siblings.
In honor of streamlining and letting go.
In honor of recognizing the perfect opportunity and not hesitating to seize it.


Possibly the last photo of rocket-sock-clad Owlet (using my Facebook albums as a quick reference, because I am not crazy enough to wade through the digital snowdrifts of baby’s first year photos). We were at my inlaws, and it never turned up there, so I strongly suspect it made its escape in an airport or homeward-bound plane. My hope is that it had a delightful voyage to distant lands and was eventually picked up by some discerning individual who made it into a lavender satchel or a teenie doll sleeping bag or a coin purse or some other such thing.

Unphotographed Moments – Catchup Round (Days Twenty-Two Through Twenty-Six)

(This post is part of a series for August 2013 entitled “Unphotographed Moments.” Read the intro to the series here.)

Thursday’s Unphotographed Moment:

Without forewarning or fanfare I schlepped my cello over to my beloved friends’ house for a planned gathering, answered queries with a vague “yes, I am going to play something later,” and parked it against a divider wall between living room and kitchen. A few glasses of wine later, my hosts’ curiosity finally got the better of them, and they asked more specifically, what? And when? I love a good surprise, but this was not the time for one, and I awkwardly admitted to having written a piece for solo cello in honor of, in memory of, in mourning for the brilliant light that was their three year old son, diagnosed with JMML a year ago, lost nearly seven months ago, who ought to be turning four years old next week.

I warmed up with a piece I’d been meaning to share with them for awhile: “Mashed Marley,” a Bob Marley medley written by request of one of my students, written around the time they lost their Marley-loving son. A piece easily memorized by proxy during lessons, and quite fun to play, if I do say so myself.

Then my piece. Their piece. Written for their son, and them, and the tremendous jagged boy-shaped hole in their lives. A piece I do not yet have completely memorized, and thus Rapunzel volunteered herself as human music stand. And I began to play. And my music stand began to cry. And it was horrible and lovely and I didn’t do a terrible job, despite the wine.

I know their hearts felt my intent. In the hand clasping, the eye welling, the glistening silence after the last percussive tap on my cello’s resonant surface.

I treasure these friends, who do not need to recapture the momentum of conversation, who can allow a moment to be uncomfortably beautiful and sad, who do not mind the restlessness of my post-performance hands entwining fabric in purposeless loops, like rosary beads or daisy chains.

Friday’s Unphotographed Moment:

Sharing a playground with a horde of teenagers, approximately freshmen in high school. To my surprise, the boys were the most considerate (rebuking “Don’t swear! There’s a little kid over there!”) while the girls were heedless — one even stole the tire swing from Owlet while I was catching a wandering Platypup and declined to see us standing five feet away until I said, “excuse me,” in my best stern mama voice.

Saturday’s Unphotographed Moment:

Tricycling home from a solo-parent dinner out with my little ones, a warm-turning-cool breeze ruffling our hair, a cloud-smeared sunset glossing our cheeks. Feeling the essence of “unphotographed moments” ringing deep within me.

Sunday’s Unphotographed Moments:

Driving a preteen child whose parent is ill to UU. Listening to her bright alto sing to my poopy-fussy Platypup the whole way there. Wanting and not wanting to share my knowledge of our shared experience having a parent with cancer, seeing as mine turned out so devastatingly. Hoping her story is brighter, preparing myself to be a pillar of empathy if it is not.

Taking hopefully our last trip in the Jetta as a family on the way to meet my sister to pick up her car (we are “car-sitting” while she is in Shanghai and lending the Jetta to friends). There is nothing like a car without AC to make you wish you had just stayed home, but getting out into the delicious bay air and promptly to a nearby playground went a long way toward erasing the painful memory of sweltering stop-and-go traffic. As did the sushi we inhaled for dinner before rochambeauing to see who got to drive two exhausted grumpy kids home in the old car and who got to zip off solo in the new car. I won the first round and we tied the next several rounds so I declared myself the winner in light of the increasing impatience to be on the road from the younger set, got only token protest from Thor, and enjoyed a blissful 45-minute silence only slightly tinged with unfamiliar car anxiety.

Monday’s Unphotographed Moments:

Turning on our solar system! Enjoying guilt-free AC, refrigeration, computing, and all the rest, not to mention the singular joy of charging the electric company for supplying them with power. Yes, friends, our meter is running backward.

Admittedly, we did photograph the inauguration of our solar system:








(Platypup assisted Thor in figuring out which switches needed turning when.)

Bile-inducing shock and disgust upon learning that some white members of my favorite online breastfeeding support group The Leaky Boob were bizarrely opposed to the first annual Black Breastfeeding Week. One member wrote an excellent rebuttal to their bigoted hate-explosion entitled “Dear White Women: Top Five Reasons Why We Need a Black Breastfeeding Week” which I encourage everyone to read.


Today’s one-shot photo:


The beginnings of our tomato deluge, accented by our ongoing cucumber onslaught.

Unphotographed Moments – Day Eleven

(This post is part of a series for August 2013 entitled “Unphotographed Moments.” Read the intro to the series here.)

Today’s Unphotographed Moments:

The delicious three-legged sourdough bread turtle the cashier who took our order gave us for free at the new Boudin SF. Turned out to be excellent teething for Platypup as well.

The gorgeous display of piggy banks decorated by members of the UU congregation as part of a fundraiser. I have pictures of two of them here (the amazing “zen tangling” was done by my friend Gertrude alone; the Monopoly pig was a collaborative effort by Gertrude, Alice, Rapunzel, and I).



Semi-silent laughing with Rapunzel, complete with tears and bright red face, while listening to the UU sermon, much to Owlet’s bemusement. Fortunately we were toward the back.

Peacefully shopping at the bead store with a sleeping Platypup snuggled against my chest in the Ergo, enjoying an opportunity to be both very much with my child and free to browse slowly along in mental solitude.

Catching up at my kitchen table with my sister, who has been traveling all summer and is returning only briefly before going to teach in Shanghai!

Platypup chasing our cats trying desperately to be gentle with them. Cricket gladly accepts any and all things resembling caresses; Pickle tolerates a certain level of enthusiastic petting; Pajama gets touched only when soundly cornered and otherwise flees promptly upon threatened approach.


Today’s one-shot photo:


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