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i love safari. but firefox keeps creeping in, forcing me to love it. will i have to switch? i’m at a weird place with technology right now – i currently have two cell phones (don’t ask me to explain why) and now i’m straddling 2 browsers (i actually use several more for testing websites, but i’m talking about personal use). it’s so inefficient, and that really bugs me.

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I’m fascinated with a tool over at Blogger.com that shows images being uploaded in real time. It’s hard to pull myself away from the flow of images as they pour in from all over the world. Welcome to the global community! My friend at The Daily Jimmy brought this site to my attention – Thanks, Jim.

Last night I fell asleep on the couch at 9 pm after a tough kung fu class. Woke up at 2 am with the computer still balanced on my stomach and the cat on my head. Got up and wondered if I should just start some work (why not?) but after a glass of water decided to try to sleep some more. My bed was so comfy that I went right back to sleep until 7:30 this morning. Wow. Ten hours of sleep for me is usually something to be worried about; it just doesn’t happen unless I’m sick. Luckily, I feel great today, and I’m guessing that this is part of my transition to an empty house – correcting a 20 year sleep deficit.

As I was stumbling up the stairs, still sleepy, I heard the trash truck coming around the corner and realized it’s Thursday, my pickup day. I ran outside to drag the can to the curb, and it was completely empty! I went back into the house and got the few items in the kitchen trashcan, a few tissues at the bottom of the bathroom trash, and that’s all there was after being gone for a long weekend; one person just doesn’t generate much waste. I’m hoping my utilities bills show the same result…

I’m sure it would be nice for my readers if I gave an eloquent chronological reflection of the past week, but somehow time just doesn’t seem to be the organizing factor in these thoughts. So I’ll be jumping around a bit, and just hoping that there’s some sense to all of it.

On Saturday Jack and I drove a loaded car to UConn and carried all his stuff up 6 flights of stairs. Here’s a picture of him and his roommate, a really nice nursing student named Larry:

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The grimace on Jack’s face sort of sums up the morning – though everything went well, and in fact the big guys carried the really heavy stuff, it was hotter than a sauna and Jack hates that. Shirts were off after the first climb up the stairs (their shirts, not mine…), and I said my goodbyes at about noon after the sherpas had reached the summit with all the bags, lamps, stereos, etc.

After leaving my big guy, I drove on down through Connecticut for a rendezvous at a hotdog stand. The highlight of the drive, besides the AC in my car, was going over the Frog Bridge in Willamantic. I felt like I was in The Wind in the Willows, or a Beatrix Potter illustration.

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Look at that dangling leg! Very cool. Here’s the history:

The “Battle of Frog Pond” was an incident in 1756 around the time of the French and Indian War. The citizens of Windham (Willimantic is located in Windham township) were awakened in the middle of the night by a tremendously frightening racket just outside of town. Assuming the worst, they seized their arms and prepared for the impending Indian attack. When morning arrived, the armed villagers marched in the direction of the noise only to discover that the nearby pond had dried up, and the area was littered with hundreds of dead bullfrogs. The frogs that still lived were heading to the Willimantic River in search of water. Thus, the fearsome sounds that had plagued the citizenry the previous night had not been Indians but rather bullfrogs “fighting” for water. The pond was renamed Frog Pond, the story spread throughout the towns and colonies, and the legend was born. The story is apocryphal, and most likely well embellished by local color. Nevertheless, the town has recently erected a Frog Bridge to commemorate the incident, featuring frogs atop spools of thread. Giant sculptures of frogs atop spools of thread adorn a bridge next to the mill. The thread spools are included in the bridge’s design because Willimantic was, at one time, known as “Thread City.” The American Thread Company had a mill in Willimantic on the banks of the Willimantic River, and was at one time the largest employer in the state as well as one of the largest producers of thread in the world.

The town of Willimantic has now given the four frogs official names. They are now Willy, Manny, Windy and Swifty. The names Willy and Manny combine for Willimantic. Windy is for Windham. Swifty is a reference to Willimantic, which is Algonquin for “the land of the swift running water.

After a hotdog break, John and I went to the Mark Twain House in Hartford, where I forgot to take any photos at all. Great story of life there, great stories about life written there. I enjoyed it thoroughly. One of the best things was the way Twain reflected on the spirit of the house, words that express what I want to feel in my home:

“To us our house was not unsentient matter—it had a heart & a soul & eyes to see us with, & approvals & solicitudes & deep sympathies; it was of us, & we were in its confidence, & lived in its grace & in the peace of its benediction. We never came home from an absence that its face did not light up & speak out its eloquent welcome—& we could not enter it unmoved.”

I love that…

Now I’ll jump over the ocean to comment on daughter Gracie. She’s been hot, bored, and lonely, but roused herself from lassitude to get to the AC in the local museums. I can only hope their heat breaks by Sunday morning when I arrive at the aeroporto di Fiumicino because I don’t think the appartemento needs another heat source (me) when it’s already 100.

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classic! thanks for the great photo, r.

Not too badly out of sequence after all, not too reflective either. Some days, it’s “nothing but the facts, ma’am” with a web of thinking and feeling to follow. My house is quiet like a well trained dog this week, patiently waiting for the next command. I have that feeling you get when you dive into cool clear water and find yourself relatively weightless. There’s no resistance here, very little friction, with just one body moving through the last 24 hours. It’s peaceful, smooth, clear. Mmmmh.

I was There, and now I’m Here. Last month was Grace and Henry and Jack getting ready for departure to life adventures; today is me, back at the empty house with those three packed off successfully, facing my own adventure and a dirty house. It’s magical, exciting for them and for me, and full of possibility. Grace’s adventures are perking up, and next weekend I’m off to Rome to be with her during her first week of school. Henry is mesmerized at Pitt – first day of classes have immersed him in the world that he’s been waiting for most of his life. Jack has auditions tomorrow and is already under pressure, but his roommate is a good friend and the weather is supposed to cool this week. I had the best of companionship this weekend, visited the Mark Twain House in Hartford and had a boating tour of the Thames River in Connecticut. Sometimes I feel like the luckiest woman in the world. Hallelujah.

Honestly, I’m too damn tired to write much of anything today, so I’m putting some music on, cleaning my house, taking a bubble bath and putting myself to bed with a great book and clean sheets. Amen to that. I’m happy, content, loving my life, and fully satisfied. Look for lots of pics and stories tomorrow. It’s all a prayer.

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I started first grade with one of my best friends 40 years ago. Last summer I saw Chris one week before he started his training and diet regime to get fit and stay alive (top photo, at Faneuil Hall in Boston). The next time I saw him was last Friday, 2 days after hitting his goal weight (bottom photo, with my boys). I almost died when I saw him, he looks so great. His face looks the way it did in 5th grade (ok, a bit older). This man left a longtime career to go back to school and now teaches geography to 8th graders. He jokes about having lost a whole 8th grader this year in weight. I think he’s a hero, not just to me but to all those students who witnessed the changing of a life. Thanks, Christopher. You are ever an inspiration, dear friend.

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One to go. I have safely deposited Henry at University of Pittsburgh, and just returned from that adventure a couple of hours ago. Grace is still in Rome, wishing she could escape her father’s watchful eye, no doubt. Now it’s Jan’s (oldest son) turn to head out to University of Connecticut on Saturday for year 2 of his college career. The house is quiet but I’m feeling pretty turbulent with the whirlwind of packing and unpacking, buying, buying, buying, air travel and goodbyes.

Short term plan: focus on hour by hour needs over the next couple of days. Get Jack to Uconn. Sleep the rest of the weekend. Wake up on Monday fully refreshed and ready for new adventures and perspective. More soon…

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in the airport to pittsburgh, making the all-important shopping list

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one of the newest dorms on campus, great view from the 7th floor

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typical henry outreach…

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almost like home…

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taking a break to make some music

In case you didn’t know, this coming year I will be on my own.

By the end of August, my 15-year-old daughter will be living with her dad in Rome for the next year, attending an American high school there. My middle son will be attending University of Pittsburgh as a freshman. My oldest son is returning to University of Connecticut as a sophomore. My ex, who has been living down the road for over 2 years, has just left for the Rome job. So after emotion-filled farewells and a tuition- and travel-diminished wallet, it will be just me in the house. And the cat.

I’m the type of mom who is happy to watch her children move away, confident that they are ready for it, and in the knowledge that I’ve spent the last 18 years preparing them to go. This was the goal. Confident, and almost giddy. I have stuff to do.

In fact, I have a spent quite a bit of time in the last 6 months thinking about what this means, and anticipating some of the things that I can do. And I keep thinking of more and more. To keep it under control, I think I’ll list them here, and then I can keep track of which ones are happening and which should get dropped. And I’m open to ideas, if you want to chime in…

1. September: hire a full housecleaning crew to purge the house top to bottom. no matter the cost, i will be closer to godliness.

2. Trip #1: Travel to Italy to see Grace settled in, tour St. Stephen’s, and meet the school faculty. On the way home, visit London, meeting my honey at Heathrow for his birthday and staying with my friends Bruce and Andrew.

3. Birthday present to myself (August 1): Buy a motorcycle. I have the permit, now it’s time to get a bike.

4. Go to the Providence Zen Center for morning meditations.

5. Sign up for a 5-7 day silent retreat at one of the many good retreat centers in New England. Probably in January.

6. In the fall, go skydiving over the autumn landscape.

7. Learn Italian, and if possible try to bring my French back.

8. Use my new piano to learn how to improvise. Finally. If an old dog can learn new tricks (and I believe they can).

9. Finish the multitude of house projects, most requiring carpentry, wiring, or painting skills within my capability.

10. Create a financial plan and start dumping money into investments.

11. Related to #10: see how low I can get my utilities with no one in the house but me.

12. Get back to my painting projects.

13. Trip #2: cruise with gal pals in the spring. Poss carribean.

14. Trip #3: Italy in February with Grace’s 2 best neighborhood friends.

15. Trip #4: House exchange somewhere in the world. In fact, I wouldn’t mind having a trip planned for every single month. Maybe I’ll work on that…

16. Before Christmas, have a big party at my own house.

17. Go skiing for the second time of my life.

Sometimes I hear myself using a specific word several times in an inordinately short period of time. Once it’s spoken, it seems, it takes root and wants to be said over and over. The tongue tries it out here, and then there. The word develops a boldness, a will to exert itself that supercedes my intention for speech. The only cure is vigilant discipline so things don’t get out of hand. Let’s face it, you really don’t want to hear the word “hobnob” more than twice in a few days.

One word that has cropped up, pushed out, been spoken, several times in the last 4 days is “unfold.” But it’s not bothering me a bit. It’s not a sound my tongue is trying out, scratching its back on. It’s an idea that is forming. A thread that’s weaving. I haven’t found the end yet, but I find myself thinking about it in small moments suddenly. Like when I shut the dishwasher and take a moment to put my hands on my hips and look out the window. Unfolding.

Or when the task in front of me fades a bit and the background information comes into focus: cat pouncing, kids on the couch laughing, music playing, car passing by. And I suddenly think of the word “unfold.”

This word is pushing itself into my consciousness in some interesting ways. Thoughts of how bodies unfold. Reflections on how time unfolds, and folds again. Ideas about the physical qualities of folding mechanisms. How folding and unfolding relate to collapse and extension, the way these words seem to imply intention or pattern.

When something is unfolded, surfaces that have been inward facing are exposed. It’s an opening. There’s an upward energy. Today I had lots of those moments. Seeing the spring unfold in new england, during a wonderful walk today. In conversation, the unfolding of another person’s life as stories are shared. On the stage, the beautiful revelation of an unknown part of a son I thought I knew so well.

Unfoldings can feel gentle, less about movement than awareness. They can be a change in perspective. Today I’m thinking back to my previous post about a history of not folding laundry, and it’s made me wonder if maybe I’ve always had an attraction to the unfolded state. It feels mysterious, truthful, and grounded. I like that.

Of course, proteins must fold to achieve their biological functionality. Sometimes the dimension of the folded state is critical to perceived stability. If you’re looking for an introduction to the physical nature of unfolding, take a look at Erik Demaine’s Folding and Unfolding page.

I bet that word will be on my lips again tomorrow. I don’t think it’s done with me yet.

Well, I showed my ass good yesterday, as they say.

Two posts ago I berated Match.com participants who do NOT reply to emails, even with a short acknowledgment. Today, I went on Match just to see if I was still visible, even though my subscription terminated three days ago. Sure enough, I was allowed to sign in. My profile was still public, and it even showed the “online now” banner. This means that if I came up on someone else’s search I would be seen as either “online now” (like earlier today) or “online within 24 hours” (which it probably says at this moment). Here’s where my ass comes in.

I had 18 emails waiting in queue for me, but Match won’t let me see them unless I re-subscribe. So I have now joined the ranks of people who seem to be actively trolling for matches, but rudely failing to reply with even a brief note of acknowledgment. Dang. And I felt so gloriously justified and self-righteous! That’s what I call a whine-buster.

I had a blast on Match.com. I met a lot of interesting men and enjoyed some good companionship. One of the strategies I employed was “write, don’t wink.” Winks are for babies. Winks indicate that you notice a person’s profile with interest, but are waiting for them to make the first move. Why not just move?

I preferred to send a brief email that explained how he caught my attention, and then I would ask a question or express an interest in hearing more about a hobby or some other detail from his profile.

This worked well for me. People enjoy knowing they are appreciated. I had dates every week for three months, some as first meetings and some as follow-ups. Sometimes it was a good fit of personality and interest. Sometimes not! It’s all good. My goal was to have some good companionship and hear some good stories, rather than find what is often referred to as “The One.”

But something else became evident as I did my emailing every day. Many people out there do not reply to emails. I would send a thoughtful note to a man who describes himself as “a compassionate, friendly man with great communication skills” and he would not reply. Nothing. Nada.

Maybe these people just don’t have the writing skills to gracefully say “I appreciate your interest in me. You seem like a kind and thoughtful person. I don’t think we are a match, but I hope only the best for you on your journey to find the right man. Have a wonderful day.” Still, even a lesser version would have more integrity than nothing.

Maybe photo-to-photo interaction just doesn’t command the same level of response as face-to-face dialogue. I get that. I just think it’s sort of pathetic.

I didn’t say much about it on Match because, let’s face it, it sounds like whining. Ok, it IS whining. I guess my message is, if someone writes to you on a dating site, write them back, even if it’s brief. It’s an acknowledgment of that person as a human being, of the courage it took to “put it out there.” How hard is that?