Sunday, November 27, 2011


Conscientious Objector

I shall die, but
that is all that I shall do for Death.
I hear him leading his horse out of the stall;
I hear the clatter on the barn-floor.
He is in haste; he has business in Cuba,
business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning.
But I will not hold the bridle
while he clinches the girth.
And he may mount by himself:
I will not give him a leg up.

Though he flick my shoulders with his whip,
I will not tell him which way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where
the black boy hides in the swamp.
I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death;
I am not on his pay-roll.

I will not tell him the whereabout of my friends
nor of my enemies either.
Though he promise me much,
I will not map him the route to any man's door.
Am I a spy in the land of the living,
that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city
are safe with me; never through me Shall you be overcome. 

Do students still learn this Millay poem in school?  

It has been ringing in my head lately, a poem that Will always reminded me of, in a way; his refusal to aid or acquiesce in any way to his fate or to even buy in to the idea that what would come might come soon.  He was always steady as he went, always thought the next day or so would bring a new plateau, some new kind of stability, stabilizing treatment, a new routine, and we'd go from there, make that world as big as possible.  Steady.

Although not in the intended meaning, to me this poem always has a little bit of a "live every day for the living" flavor to it.  The idea that you could be a spy in the land of the living by serving death in any way, including by not living your own life.  And there is a little bit of the cheating death altogether idea to it, too, for me.  At any rate, I can't explain exactly how Will reminded me of it, and perhaps it makes no good sense to anyone except me, since those meanings are certainly not born out by the poem's context.  But it's a useful poem, I think, all-the-same, and topical these days, and I've been thinking of it, so here it is.  Never through me shall you be overcome

We miss him deeply today.  One year on, and forward into the next because, after all, what else is there but forward.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


It can be odd to parent an anxious child.  I resist orientation towards labels, but I know what the counselor has said, and I see the obsessive wanting to know, know, know exactly what will happen next in Liam.  I hope he'll grow away from it, or learn to manage it better.  At any rate.

Yesterday we were reading a book about a kitten which was "small and fluffy and had an air of confidence about it."

I said: Liam, when do you have an air of confidence?

What's confidence?

When you're not worried at all because you know you can do it.

(Voice full of wonder and incredulity) Never.

(Trying to redirect) Well, I think sometimes you do, like when you put on your shoes, or when you draw pictures.  And, if you haven't felt that way too much yet, you will more soon, as you get older and learn more things.

I haven't felt that way yet.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Good bye to Mollie the dog


I feel so sad writing this -- we've given Mollie to a new family.

When I first met Will I remember being surprised, and relieved, to learn he had a dog.  I remember thinking, okay, this shows he knows how to love something and take care of it.  Good.  And he did love Mollie.  And when he was well he took her everywhere and walked her all over the place.  She is a crazy smart dog, knows hand signals, whistle signals, can "ye" and "haw" like she actually might heard sheep.  But she was just too much for me.  Without walking she goes crazy -- digs enormous holes in the yard, tracks dirt everywhere; can't stay inside because she just paces and whines; can't be outside because she refuses to go into the dog house Will built her.  I can't walk her and Liam at the same time because he dawdles and she pulls on the leash and races around and knocks him down.  I'm gone all day at work.  I believe a new home to be best for her, and I know it's best for us.

I hope and pray I didn't promise Will I would keep Mollie forever.  I can't remember. 

The person who owns the kennel Mollie sometimes stays at know someone who does dog rescue and she found the new family for Mollie.  A big fenced yard; dog door; daily walking routine.  We met in the rain up at the elementary school.  Mollie was leery at first but I had brought dog treats and the leash and the tennis ball. So they walked her; gave her treats; tossed her the tennis ball.  I gave her a scratch behind the ears and told her we loved her, and she jumped in the car without a backwards glance.

Liam is doing fine, as far as I can tell.  Maybe he's suppressing it.  We talked about how Mollie needed a house with a big yard and a family that could walk her every day.  He cried a little, but also thought that Mollie should have a big yard.  Then I explained (on the advise of his counselor, since I never would have thought of this myself) that if we didn't have a dog to take care of maybe we could get him a small pet of his own, like a fish.  He helped pack up her stuff.  While I was introducing Mollie to her new family he and the babysitter made her a card "Dear Mollie -- I hope you have fun in your new home; I will miss you but I will get a pet fish. Love Liam."

Today I got an email from Mollie's new person. She took Mollie on her "daily 3-mile walk" and Mollie "did great on the regular leash and could have gone 3-miles more."   Thank you.

Lantern Walk

I go outside with my lantern my lantern goes with me,
Above the stars are shining, here on earth shine we,
So shine your light  through the still dark night,
La bimma la bamma la boom boom boom
‘neath heavens dome, till we go home,
la bimma  la bamma la boom boom boom.

Lantern walk at Liam's little school begins with a story inside and ends with a fire in the back yard.  In between the children and their people walk to neighbors house and sing songs to brighten the dark night and remind neighbors to warm one another through the long winter.

There are 11 children.  If I'm very lucky he can stay here through the second grade.

A big moon brightened the lantern walk tonight and even though the west wind brought cold and rain all day we had a break from the weather that lasted just long enough.  Perfect.

*Edited to reload video

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Two boys

Liam is making friends with the boy across the street.  It is so very sweet.  On Friday afternoon they made the pizza dough.  This is them measuring flour into smaller bowls to dump into the big bowl.  Important to have many and equal jobs when doing projects with 4-year olds.