Yesterday I found myself climbing Cascadilla Gorge in Ithaca with Stef (aka Daughter #1) and her godmother, Aunt Beth, who is my best friend from college. Beth and I have known each other for 25 years (gasp!). We met when I was a nervous, lost transfer student to Georgetown. She was the fun, energetic girl with the great voice whose dorm was next to mine. A friendship was born; one that has weathered every possible sadness and triumph.

Walk up the gorge = much huffing and puffing. Lunch at top of gorge = $21.83. Lifelong friendship =priceless

The gorge climbing might have been a wee bit too much activity, because I’ve been getting sick and yesterday it hit with a vengeance. The doc put me on antibiotics for an infection. I feel really weird. Kind of woozy and not fully attached to my body. Not sure if it’s the infection or the meds. Whatever it is, I wish it would stop RIGHT NOW.

Help me out. I need links to funny Internet sites.

Hit me, people. I will spend the day feeling woozy, watching World Cup soccer, and surfing your suggestions.

(I can’t figure out if I should be cheering for the Netherlands, because they wear orange so boldly, or Serbia-Montenegro, because I feel bad that the proud name of their nation is abbreviated to SMT on the television.)

(Isn’t woozy a great word? woozywoozywoozy)

oh canada!

Yesterday was our anniversary, so BH and I played hooky from life and drove to Canada. (It’s not that far from where we live.) We recently got our passports and wanted to test-drive them. They worked! The border patrol let us out of the country, and then they let us back in.

So Canada was fun. Not much in the way of ethnic food, but beautiful and filled with nice people. Well, not exactly filled. One of the things we like about it is the low population density. It is scattered with nice people.

We had lunch in Gananoque and spent the afternoon walking around Kingston. I had burned a couple CDs to listen to and we talked and held hands for hours. At dinnertime, we found a place that had a special on chicken wings: 35 cents/piece. As far as anniversaries go, it was low-key and peaceful. Perfect.

On way back into America, we felt really bad for the truckers who had to wait in a long, long line to have their cargo inspected. Maybe it was because of the bad guys they found near Toronto last week. I am really sick of bad guys who think that blowing things up is an option. And I’m glad I’m not a trucker. Most of all, I am thrilled to be married to BH.

My dad

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

He turns 79 today, but that’s not how we’re supposed to say it. He prefers us to note that he is “beginning his eightieth year.” This way he gets to say he’s 80 a year early, in the same way I started calling myself a teenager when I was 12. But we’ll honor the request. After all, he’s almost 80. That counts for something.

My father has been a profound influence on my life and on my writing. He is a poet, first and foremost. This means he sees the world through the eyes of a child, and his heart is pure, and his feelings are easily wounded. He is an alchemist who transmutes emotion into words into laughter and tears. He rages against social injustice and corruption and he cheers good intentions. He is a hopeless optimist. He does not suffer fools gladly. He is committed to the life of a Christian seeker. He is not allowed to touch chain saws, but he makes great soup. (There was a time when he made Very Bad Soup. The scene in SPEAK where the dad buries the nasty turkey soup in the backyard was inspired by one of Dad’s earliest soup attempts in the early 1970’s.) He likes Harry Potter. He has never forgotten the lessons of the Great Depression. He gave a poetry reading last month that left the audience in tears. He loves my mother.

My father is a great man.

In all honesty, I have to report that I did not think this when I was 13 years old. Our family went through a very, very rough decade (more like 15 years) and through much of it he confused me, bewildered me, infuriated me. I am sure I did the same to him. There was love underneath it all, but lots of pain was smothering it. So if you’re having a hard time with your dad or mom or whoever today, take a deep breath and count to 80. Try to talk about it. The pain can be washed away and the love will grow.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic My dad.

Playing catch-up

The research for the speech I gave on Thursday wound up taking a lot longer than I thought it would, but it was worth every minute. The speech was about literacy and literature in Central New York (which I call the Heart of New York), and included one of my patented rants about how we Americans should not rest until everyone in our country is functionally literate. I gave the speech to a room of very nice people – the folks who head up local charities and libraries, as well as the business groups which donate to both. So, yeah, I was preaching to the choir. It was great.

(If anyone cares, I’ll post a link to the speech tomorrow.)

One of the highlights of the afternoon was seeing my fifth grade math teacher again, Mrs. Williams. She was the most beautiful teacher at my elementary school, and all of us girls had mad crushes on her. I didn’t even care that she taught math, I just wanted to be like her – dignified, elegant – when I grew up. I still do. I also met a girl (I think her name was Tiiso) who is a fourth-grader at that same elementary school – Ed Smith. That was fun and she was adorable.)

Hung out with my mom all morning, feeding her doughnuts and pumping her for stories about WWII, and what it was like to be a country girl and go to Brooklyn at age 18. She has great stories to tell. My ongoing war with Medicare on her behalf might reach a peaceful resolution, but I’m waiting until I see everything in writing before I believe it.

This afternoon I’m writing and mentally preparing for this evening’s games. Tomorrow I head towards Buffalo. I’ll be speaking at the Lancaster Middle School on Monday and the Lancaster High School on Tuesday.

This is the most enlightening and mind-opening essay I have read in a very long time. Please read it. Along with essays like that, I’ve been chewing my way through fantasy novels that I missed the last two decades. Neil Gaiman is still my #1 Author, but now I’m into Diana Wynne Jones. I tried to finish Charles DeLint’s Trader, but didn’t love it. Can someone recommend another one of his books to me?

Pictures of library heaven

A rant-free post

No, really. I promise. Because I am in a good mood. A great mood. Georgetown won yesterday and SUNY Albany almost beat UConn. I love UConn, but come on – how can you not root for Albany in that situation? I love March.

Another reason for feeling so great today? The farmers down the road from us have started boiling their maple sap. It doesn’t matter how much it snows this week, Spring has arrived.

This means it’s time for me to hit the road again. Tomorrow I catch a plane to San Diego. (Tough, I know. Just pray that the Stinky Guy doesn’t sit next to me again.) I’ll be speaking in LaJolla on Monday, at the Chadwick School in Palos Verdes on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I’ll be giving a public presentation at the Cerritos Library on Friday evening. I come home a week from today.

One of yesterday’s highlights was a trip to the library that resulted in an armful of books for the trip. A lot of them are fantasies – it’s about time I read more of those. So I have the perfect Saturday lined up: writing, reading, basketball, and packing. OK, so it would be really perfect if I didn’t have to pack. But nobody gets a perfect life, so I can deal with it. I’ll get BH to build a fire in the fireplace tonight. That will balance out the sadness of packing my suitcase again.

What are the ingredients of your perfect Saturday in March?