Monday, October 9, 2017

Joy From India to Iowa

Any time I could have been writing, has been spent instead, listening, to an incredible interview found in this book, between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu; The Book of Joy. It has been profoundly peace-giving and inspiring, a life-changer. So much wisdom, love, joy and compassion are exchanged and offered from these two venerable, elderly men who have seen tragedy, loss, and despair, and come through it with a sense of wonder (and humor) still intact. I listened to it on audio, and it was an incredible experience, (I listened to it twice, as did my husband, who recommended it), but I will get a paper copy to return to as well. 

I am glad that this book was in my life, because the last three weeks have been mostly alone; Thierry has been to India and Germany, and back again to Germany. A shot of a festival he attended, from his cell phone camera:

That same night, Gael woke up sometime in the wee hours with a high fever, sore throat, sore ears...everything ached. The previous day had been busy; homecoming for Valentine, on the left:

This meant an afternoon of preparation, which, thankfully, was beautifully accomplished by her older sister and her friend, the super-talented Michaela. My dining room table, with the extra leaf pulled out, was taken over by beauty supplies. I have never seen such a spread.
This is apparently serious business for college women. They know things about make-up I didn't know there were to know. Thank you, girls!

We were invited to a wedding reception, for the daughter of a friend who also spent a lot of time at our house when she was younger. Four out of seven of us made it, plus Cate's friend, stepping in to help with the numbers and driving back and forth to college. I was very grateful to have them here for the evening, it made it so much fun!

That week, we had to pretty much stay home and get Gael better, except, of course, life goes on; kids have to go places, food needs to be made, sometimes we work. I had a fourth delivery of tomatoes from a farmer friend...I can't even remember all of the places I have stashed tomato sauce, salsa, piperade, and plain frozen tomatoes. On Friday night, as I was picking up the last child from the last activity of the week, at 8pm, I got a phone call from the one I had just dropped off 40 minutes away for a sleepover that began at a trampoline park..."Mama, can I get a pick-up?" "What, are you bored already? What's up?"  "I think I broke my foot." It was a bad sprain, and we start physical therapy this week. Because we were not busy enough.

A little respite, Papa was home for a few days between trips. We went to the apple orchard one day:

There was a Children's Literature Festival, sponsored by the Midwest Writing Center, another day.  One of the guest speakers was a favorite children's author...Bruce Coville. One of my favorites is the Skull of Truth, because of the way it deals with how hard it can be to tell the truth and to be true to oneself. Gael, having his book signed:

We spent all the free time we had in the clay studio, at the Family Museum, where for $5*, you get a chunk of clay and as much time in the studio as you need to form it, paint it and bake it. Real-life artists are on staff and are happy to sit down with you to show you techniques, give you tips, help you use the wheel to throw a mug. Gael's first project:
I had a couple of interpreting appointments on the same day in Iowa City, so my daughter put me up for the night and we had a great time! She brought me along to an American Academy of University Women meeting; the student chapter that she and another girl founded. We saw a heart-breaking movie about girls around the world; Girl Rising. The focus is on girls from around the world who struggle to break free of poverty and oppression. Following the movie was a discussion over hot cider and coffee, that encompassed everything from socio-economic status to race to gender and cast systems that can and does impact lives of people around the globe...and the role of education in improving it. Fascinating. The discussions I had with students over two days gave me hope for the future of our community and the world. Young people are lovely to hang out with.

There has been a little mayhem, a little chaos, and some good moments sprinkled in there. Thierry is back in Germany until Thursday. Today, for lessons, we will finish up a drawing of the Mississippi River and the four towns that surround it here, read, write, and start a story from India. It coincides with Dad's trip, and the gift he brought back for us from his colleagues, a golden, laughing Buddha. Yesterday's bread was pretty; and a reminder that taking time out of the busyness to breathe and be grateful for the little things can cultivate peace and joy.

* At the Family Museum, in Bettendorf, IA, the policy is to pay admission for the first time you use the clay studio, and if you return only to work on a project you have begun, and not enter the museum, you do not have to pay admission a second or third time. You may also purchase a membership, and this includes admission for a year. They are on the ASTC Travel Passport Program, which means your membership from another museum may earn you free admission here, and vice versa for participating museums. I have always found this an excellent bargain, even if we only travel to another town with cool museums once a year. This is a non-sponsored statement. 

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