Day 32: Mostly Alex

Ross Gay, in The Book of Delights, distinguishes delights from joys and mostly only writes about delights in his book. I, on the other hand, will include joys in my Blog of Delights.

My son Andrew’s partner, Alex, is a pure joy. I thought about that recently — I knew I was going to write a post about her on her birthday (today!) but also thought that delight is not enough of a description. She’s a joy.

I think that the first time I met Alex, she was a guest for dinner. Also at the table were my daughter, Clare, and her friend, Sara. Andrew and Dean were there of course, too. At one point during dinner someone started barking. Maybe Clare or Sara, then I chimed in, then Dean, then Andrew and Alex. I knew that day that Alex was one of us.

There is a lot to like about Alex — she’s smart, funny, strong, loyal. She makes delicious and beautiful cakes. She and Andrew seem to be a good match. She’s really easy to get along with. She’s a patient teacher.

Alex teaching me how to play hearts.

But one thing I like most about Alex is a little hard to describe. She is not afraid to state her opinion. She does not back down when someone suggests she might be wrong. That is a trait I wish I had and I admire it in her.

Other joys today include:

  • Hanging out in Alexandria with Rosanne — we spent a couple hours talking on the waterfront, then spent another couple hours talking at her house. While it wasn’t exactly like we’d not seen each other for over 20 years, it felt very comfortable being with her again. Hopefully we will do it again.
  • The cardinal climber has a bud! Finally!
The promise of a flower

Day 31: Cinema Art Bethesda

I am on the board of directors for a film club. I don’t really have a title — webmaster, email list coordinator, maybe. Today I spent all day working on the website and drafting an email for our followers.

I heard about the group back in the early 2000s. I’d heard a film critic praise a film called Maryam and hoped to see it. Bethesda has a good film theater and I emailed them to see if they were going to show it. They wrote back and said it was not planned to be shown there. Not long after that I received my usual newsletter from the theater and noticed that Maryam was going to be shown there after all. I emailed them and asked why they told me the film was not going to be shown and they explained that the film was being shown by a group separate from the theater. I looked it up and saw that they had a hideous website, but at least found out more about the group. They met 10 Sundays a year and screened foreign and independent films.

I went to the screening of Maryam, loved it and asked the president of the group if she would like help making her website more usable and attractive (for free). She said yes and also invited me to serve on the board.

The first several years I was on the board were really wonderful. I went to all screenings, helped choose some of the films, helped with the monthly presentations by selling tickets, and even was director of operations for a year and marketing person for a different year (both years I was still the website/email list manager as well). Back then we had a full board, Beverly was the president. We also had a director of operations (that seat turned over often — it was a very demanding position), treasurer, marketing, website/email list manager, and several film discussion leaders.

In the past ten years or so I have cut back my participation due to time constraints, lack of enthusiasm for foreign films, and disagreements with various other board members. The board has dwindled to a few undefined roles.

When Beverly died I actually hoped the film group would die with her, but her family was so grateful that we were continuing it, the rest of the board did not have the heart to give up.

So now I have more time and a renewed interest in the group. We’ve had to go streaming this year, which might be why I like it better — I don’t have to go to the Sunday morning screenings.

I felt delight today, working on the website — something I’d only felt contempt for in recent years.

Day 30: A Tidy Study

This is a bit of a cheat because the work was done yesterday, but it is still a delight when I behold the tidiness of my attic office (whose name I am officially changing to “study”).

One of my consistent to-dos is “tidy office” (“tidy” being a verb in this case) because, face it, I am not a tidy person. So yesterday I spent a considerable amount of time putting things away (“away” being a bit of a stretch because often it meant “hiding” in other “to-be-tidied” spaces) and set the roomba free on the floor.

Coming up here, to my newly renamed study is a delight. There is a space for reading (Dean’s never used side), a place for lounging, a place for writing.

Day 29: Crackerbox Palace

At my retirement dinner a few weeks ago, Alex told us about her teenage love of George Harrison’s music. She especially loved Crackerbox Palace, including the video, because it was so strange.

When Andrew texted us, asking us to create a short video to celebrate Alex’s upcoming birthday, Dean wanted to do something like the video he made for Clare’s birthday this year. Remembering Alex’s fondness for Crackerbox Palace, he decided to go with that*.

How I never saw this video is a mystery. It was such fun and it featured gnomes! A true delight.

If you want to see Dean’s masterpiece, here you go.

*In retrospect we should have just said Happy Birthday, but then I would still not have heard Crackerbox Palace or seen the video.**

**This is not to say Alex was not delighted with it (she was), it just didn’t make it into the actually happy birthday video.

Day 28: RGB

It wasn’t until I awoke this morning that I learned of the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Absolutely NOT a delight. However it (and any mention of her previously) brought to mind a true delight from about 30 years ago when my friend Rosanne invited me to join a group of women who’d been members of the Women’s Equity Action League (WEAL)* present Justice Ginsburg with an award (or something — it’s a little confusing to me now because by the time they gave her the award — at least 1991 because I was either pregnant with Clare or she was just an infant — WEAL was dissolved — 1989 according to Wikipedia — but I had to join WEAL** to participate).

Anyway, all that doesn’t matter because about 30 years ago I shook hands with the Notorious RBG.

In the photo above, I am second from the left (white blouse, black dress). The seated woman between RBG and Sandra Day O’Connor is Elizabeth M. Boyer, founder and first president of WEAL.

*If you’ve never heard of WEAL, I’m not surprised. I’d not either and knew nothing about it when I joined for this one event. It was a group that broke off from the National Organization of Women over NOW’s pro-choice stance.

**Would I still have joined WEAL had I known that in 1991? Yeah, probably — I got to meet RGB (and SDO) — but it left me feeling a little guilty when I learned that fact.

Day 27: Chimney Swifts

Andrew and Alex found a small, but decent apartment in a diverse 4 story apartment building in DC. Their apartment overlooks a courtyard with trees and other greenery which creates a delightful view from every window of the apartment. One room is a sunroom that has tall windows on three walls. It looks towards another part of the apartment building.

When we were visiting last time we noticed birds going in and out of a chimney. I think it was Dean that identified them as chimney swifts. I wondered if perhaps it was more than just a place for a few families, and perhaps it was a local roost. The next time we saw the kids they said that, yes, it definitely seemed to be a roost.

We stopped by with dinner tonight (eggplant parmesan, caprese salad, wine, and cannolis for dessert) and got to see the birds in action for ourselves.

When we lived in Alexandria we lived behind an apartment building that had a chimney swift roost and would often walk to the corner where they were clearly visible. Here’s a video (sorry about my loud voice) of the Alexandria roost. I thought I took a video of the birds today, but I must have not pressed record. In addition my photo did not turn out well, therefore the photo above is also not from today, but from Alexandria, VA about two years ago.

Day 26: The Egg Man and a Pumpkin

In mid-March (St. Patrick’s Day to be exact) of this year I heard about a farm in rural Virginia that delivered eggs to our area. Since we’ve established that I love eggs this was a no-brainer for me so I signed on to receive eggs from Valandia Farm. In addition to chicken eggs they sell duck eggs and several kinds of vegetables throughout the year.

One of my favorite parts about getting eggs from Valandia Farm is that the farmers regularly post photos of the chickens that lay the eggs we buy. (Also ducks).

My first delivery included a dozen chicken eggs, half a dozen duck eggs and some garlic. I’d never had duck eggs, and was excited to try them. I cracked one and fried it but I must admit, I am not a fan of duck eggs. The taste is different enough that I only ate one as an egg, however, they are very good for baking, so I used the rest for cakes.

I’ve gotten several deliveries from the farm, mostly eggs, but also tomatoes, garlic, onions, potatoes (purple!) and cucumbers. Today I received a pumpkin.

This pumpkin was featured on their Facebook page because it settled and grew in a white vinyl garden chair. When Rick came to deliver my eggs, garlic and pumpkin today I was ready for him, including a chair for the pumpkin.