remember.

From May 2007 on 37days: In celebration of the real meaning of Memorial Day in the U.S., an 1876 flag with 38 stars that we hang on our porch for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July and other days when the happy spirit of patriotism strikes. It is easy in our hip, intellectual, urbane world–the one in which we read Proust and bake spelt madeleines and drink raw almond milk and eat Dagoba Xocolatl bars and listen to poets on the radio–to be embarrassed by expressions of national loyalty and pride, to be conflicted by the connection some make between patriotism and fighting, to understand how to oppose a war and still support those fighting it. So many of us have never fought for the freedoms we enjoy; in fact, we don’t even recognize that they are freedoms, but feel they are just how life is, should be. We won’t fully understand that they are not ours just for the breathing, not until they are gone, will we? Never one to condone war with my Quakerly leanings, particularly wars that are unjust and unfounded, and cognizant of the fact that I avoid real images of war, those beyond the parade, opting for the sanitized ones instead, I can nevertheless put a heartfelt word of thanks out into the world to those men and women who protect me, who are doing what their country has asked of them, for people they will never meet. From May 2006 on 37days. As appropriate now as it was a year ago, perhaps: It is Memorial Day in the U.S., a day to...

pure awesomeness

I ran across this video on Facebook, and I’ve watched it many times and cried each time. What a joyous, wacky, wonderful, creative way to say I love you. Truth be told, it reminds me of Mr Brilliant. And that made me smile, and it gave me some idea of how special the man is who dreamed this up–and, more importantly–who got it done with the help of a whole community of loving, happy, dancing people. (Hat tip to Josh Spector, on whose blog it was...

We saved The Hoofprint!

A month ago, I wrote about a wonderful young woman named Kala and her high school newspaper, The Hoofprint. I asked readers to help this group of students fulfill their dream of printing the newspaper throughout the school year in spite of budget cuts that had taken away their money to do so. Together, you and I raised $1,360.74–more than enough for the rest of this year, and as you’ll see in this note from the faculty sponsor of the newspaper, enough for next year as well! Patti, Your check came in today and moved my staff to tears. I can’t even begin to explain what effect your efforts to unite people had on that group. In my 11 years as a teacher, I have never worked with a better collection of young men and women, and I’m thrilled to see this group receive such a warm outpouring of support. Thank you for making our cause your own.  As an added bonus and proof of serendipity, we had a check for $1000 delivered after school today from a parent of a former student who saw your post via my Facebook. She knew how important The Hoofprint was to her daughter when she was a student. She found a place with the group after moving from halfway across the country. Directly and indirectly, your help enabled us to be only a few ad sales away from printing for the entirety of the next school year. The Hoofprint now has a patron saint.  Thank you for believing in us. Ryan McCallum Many thanks to all who gave to help Kala and her friends...

in which I meet Carlos Fuentes.

Oddly, I posted this photo as my Facebook profile shot yesterday. It was taken to commemorate my lunch date with Carlos Fuentes, the brilliant, charming, and beautiful Mexican novelist who gave us The Death of Artemio Cruz, Aura, The Good Conscience, The Hydra Head, and more. I was thinking about him, and posted it. He died today. (I feel fairly certain the two events are unrelated, though one never knows for sure, does one?) “For Patti, in the joy of meeting her,” he wrote in one of the books I shyly asked if he would sign. May you rest in peace, Carlos Fuentes, you and all those words of yours and that name that sounds so beautiful when said aloud and your charming self. It was my honor to sit with you that afternoon in 1997 when you were just a pup at 68 and I was, yes, 37. Here is the essay I wrote about reading, and about Carlos Fuentes, in 2006: “We read to know we are not alone.” – C.S. Lewis The Bermuda Triangle that has sucked up into its awful vortex my favorite fountain pen, my copy of Getting Things Done (ironic, isn’t it?), and my beautiful Canon Elph PowerShot SD600 digital camera has continued to grow in scope and intensity and greediness and sheer audacity. My winter coat, the right shoe to my favorite Merrell clogs from the Old North State Clothing Company, and the TV remote control are now gone. I haven’t seen my special highlighter in a week, the recipe for Gay’s mother’s pimento cheese is AWOL, and there have been no...

one of those days we will remember

It started late last night with a call from Emma. “She’s calling to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day,” John said as he handed me the phone. “But it’s only 11:57!” I joked. “Hi, honey,” I said. “Happy Mother’s Day!” she said. “How’s your new apartment?” I asked. We chatted for a moment, and then, suddenly, she appeared around the corner of the room. I dropped the phone and leapt up. She had driven the four hours from Raleigh to surprise me for Mother’s Day! I can’t remember ever being so surprised! Oh, my, yes, tears. And then today, a quiet day of naps and rain, and then Tess decided she needed to learn to ride her bike. The back story: She tried years ago, and instantly fell. And that, my friends, was the end of her bike-riding career. For years she wouldn’t touch a bike. Just as it took her two years to go back to a movie theater after losing a stuffed animal at a movie one day. No bike for her, until today. And now she is a bike rider, suddenly. Only she can determine that timing. I can only imagine the feeling of freedom and sheer joy she is feeling. Both girls making my heart soar as they fly, fly! Mother’s Day,...