{11•15 gratitudinous}

When the pandemic began, I had already started poking around in languages. I took Dutch and French on the Memrise app in 2019, happy to get back in touch with a language I’d already studied, and one of a country dear to me. But I heard about Duolingo, and then the pandemic seemed a good excuse. Now a mere one thousand, eight hundred fourteen days later, I’m still going. Language isn’t easy for me – there are genders, grammar, and numerical systems which just wreck my mind. But, I like giving myself the opportunity to do a hard thing – and maybe fail? So, thanks, for this – the challenge of throwing myself into something I am not typically good at, and doing it anyway.


tell me:
a flash of eyes
a shift of the body –
so many ways that I hear you

{11•14 gratitudinous}

Ah, group texts. I generally loathe them, but the niece, nephews, and younger sibs only communicate that way – email is What The Olds Use. Heh. Because a third of our family is in their teens and twenties, this is how we’re trying making dinner plans for Thanksgiving. To me the tangents and interruptions in group texts make it wholly inefficient for planning anything – but it is hilarious. We cannot accomplish anything without trash talking, and once the poking and teasing begins, it never ends. So, thanks for that – for technology, which makes our collective weirdness just that much more accessible.

family group text
sweet tones belie
bickering. bluster. snark.
blessed be the ties that bind us

{11•11 gratitudinous}

I love to wake slowly on the weekend, and listen to the neighborhood rise. One nice thing about this court is that, at least in the autumn and winter, it rises more slowly than in Spring or summertime, when it’s blower and mowers galore. Today there were only birds – and the hush before the symphony.

Today I learned the etymology of the word “Sabbath” comes from the Greek, Arabic, and Hebrew words for the number seven, the word ‘cease’ or rest, and the word Saturday.

šέḇaʽ, šòḇūa, šabbòṯ

for the root words
‘Sabbath’ holds within it
seven ways to be quiet.

{11•10 gratitudinous}

Happy Friday, friends.

November’s cold, dark days have been lengthened and brightened by the uptick in rehearsals I have this time of year. Christmas Eve this year is on a Sunday, so my choral load has doubled, plus I somehow got roped into a performance in January (…how did that…happen?). It’s work – it’s a lot of work – to be a musician with dyscalculia. I memorize my part and everyone else’s, so I don’t have to rely on my ability to count. I count note signatures on my fingers. I forget the names of notes – routinely. It’s work. However, I love that music is work that I can do.

Work that we can do is… more important than we might understand. Especially for those of us with learning differences, who have so often had work set before us which we can make neither heads nor tails of, it makes a difference to be able to put our hands to something and see it through – to complete it, using the best of our abilities. To achieve. To succeed.

So, thanks, for that. For accomplishments that perhaps seem small and routine when viewed from outside, but which feed the soul of the hive.

legs laden

what sweeter music
than hum of satisfaction
as bee flies hiveward

Poetry Friday is brought to you by the letter K, and our hostess, Mrs. E, whose blog has a shockingly clever title. Be well and fly strongly, little bees.

{11•9 gratitudinous}

I was a late and uncertain bloomer in many things, and when I finally got crushes, they were… intense. Yeeeeears later, I still remember that today is the birthday of a boy whom I thought was wonderful and perfect. Looking back, he was obviously …not. College junior to my high school, patriarchal and condescending, and probably six kinds of narcissistic. But I worked with him, and was sure he was the pinnacle of personhood. I remember spending forty bucks on a classic SWATCH for him – in the nineties, so considering inflation, that’s $90 now, which is a chunk of change for a kid. I was serious in my admiration for this boy — who wasn’t at all serious about me, and who honestly shouldn’t have accepted such an expensive gift, but what do teens, even older teens, really know, until they make mistakes?

So, thanks for that – for the mistakes that are only monetarily costly. For the course corrections that don’t require stitches and scars. For big, dumb mammals, and for youth, which bumbles its way through life like a bluebottle fly, to make its ramshackle way into adulthood.

the fuel of youth

bright, the future
beckons in firelight,
illuminated by burning

{11•8 gratitudinous}

Gratitude isn’t always “nice,” we know. Gratitude is sometimes survival. So, onward.

The ways in which autoimmune disorders attack our bodies are many and various, and while eczema itself isn’t an autoimmune disorder, it, and other skin issues, are certainly related. The ONLY nice thing I have to say about my sudden bouts of full body painful itchy is that it shows itself unequal to one of the most awesome natural remedies in the world…so, thanks for that, I guess. Not a cure, but a surcease; not the end of war, but a temporary ceasefire. In the long war called ‘autoimmune disorders,’ we take what victories we can.


ridges, rigid
spikes hold succulence. A crown
to sheath its inner balm in toughness:

{11•7 gratitudinous}

On Friday I have an interview with Laura Jackson the author of a book on dyscalculia who found me through my book, FIGURE IT OUT, HENRI WELDON. This book has opened up rather different opportunities than the usual ones, and I’m meeting a lot of new folks whom I don’t think would have otherwise picked up a book of middle grade fiction.

I do a lot of research writing every book – and read accounts of math disabilities from educational psychologists, teachers, parents, and the occasional student. Afraid to misrepresent anything, I felt compelled to keep researching, obsessed with digging, even though the most clear and obvious information repository I had was… myself.

It’s hard to shed the bone-deep reflex to hide what we feel doesn’t ‘match’ about ourselves. Shame, when it’s been practically foundational to the way I’ve seen myself, and my mathematical efforts, was the hardest thing to step away from, and convinced me that even my own experiences weren’t… good… enough to use for a book about what I struggle with.

How shame disempowers us, through keeping us silent. And yet, the opportunities and responses I’ve gained from stepping out of the shadows and saying, “Yes, it’s me,” continue to multiply.

So, thanks, for that. For the gifts won from stepping forward with our whole selves, regardless of how unsafe that sometimes feels.

all ye, all ye outs in

come out:
doesn’t stop disaster.
what if, outside the shadow’s grays
we shine?

{11•6 gratitudinous}

I got my first job in the sixth grade. My parents both had the bad habit of saying, “Oh, my daughters would love to help you!” to people at church – which is how I ended up with a long-standing housekeeping job for an older couple around the block from us. They were so, so nice, but oh, I hated that job. It felt impossible. They had lived in that place for at least fifty years, never moving the furniture or changing the drapes, never changing anything, using the same blackened skillet, frying things in grease that lived in coffee cans on the back of the stove… and it showed. I washed the walls in the kitchen every week, and still felt that a scrim of grease remained on every light switch and square of that old linoleum floor.

I would walk home, all of thirteen years old, with hands cramping like an old person’s from squeezing the 409 trigger so hard, from having thrown myself at something so vast it could never be encompassed. There’s nothing you can clean or tidy that will change Worn and Old.

I learned the Serenity Prayer at about that age.

You may laugh, but realizing that there WERE some things I couldn’t change was… revolutionary.

So, thanks, for that. For the strange relief when we realize that our best efforts will not fix everything, and that a hard reboot might be our best bet.


worth remembering:
not every door must open.
each fresh beginning
brings its own predestined end,
…at times, mere moments later