Birthday present

My darling daughter asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and I said “You can always buy me pens!” I love special markers and pens, and always feel like I shouldn’t buy any for myself, because I don’t need them. I just love getting new ones. Walking into an office supply store gives me a giddy feeling. “Oh, and washi tape,” I added. I use both to prettify my bullet journal, which is my combined journal / weekly planner / commonplace book / repository of meeting notes, sermon notes, agendas, to-do lists, to-read lists, art ideas, etc., etc., etc.

I was leaving for a week’s trip early in the morning of my birthday, which didn’t leave us time for a family celebration. She asked whether I wanted my present before or after the trip. I asked whether it was something I would want to have with me on the trip, or would it sit unused at home, and she said the former, so I opened it the day before my birthday. And lo and behold, it was one of the marker sets I had drooled over when we were doing errands a few days before, plus washi tape that matched the colors beautifully.

She was right; I wanted them with me on my trip. With vacation and study leave stretching ahead, I know I will forget all my plans for this unstructured time if I don’t write them down. So pretty!

A proper English tea

I’ve been craving this, so we went to Crown and Crumpet today. Delicious, and more than we could eat in one sitting.

Waiting more or less patiently for the tea to arrive. Please note abundance of chintz.
Oops, I meant to document before we disturbed the perfect arrangement of food, but I was too busy nom nom nomming.
Love the sparkles on the chocolate covering the strawberries. Does this mean we have now ingested our Recommended Annual Allowance of gol?

It is in a Japantown mall and it shows, but the food and decor English up the ambience. The scones were the best I’ve ever had.


Mookie is in charge of the Tupperware drawer. Two years of a lot of takeout in a city that (hooray) doesn’t allow Styrofoam has led to our having an abundance of reusable, recyclable containers. We asked her to re-organize. She seems to have purged those altogether, and also cleaned the drawer before creating a new arrangement. At least two members of the family have opened the drawer just to gaze upon its new beauty. With great difficulty, I am resisting posting this on Instagram.

The Brain Place

Continuing our story of the New England vacation from Sermons in Stones . . .

M, expressed a desire to go to “the brain place” while we were in Boston, which, it turned out, meant a university. Any university, really. But a family friend, S., is a rising senior at MIT and is living in Cambridge for the summer, so later in the day of the Public Gardens, we met up with her after her work, had a personalized tour of a bit of MIT, and all went out to dinner, which served as a combined birthday celebration for a couple of members of the party whose birthdays were close to that date. S., unsurprisingly, was a knowledgeable, candid tour guide, and best of all: she is minoring in linguistics, which just happens to be Mookie’s passion.

So we, the parents, trailed behind while the two of them geeked out about Toki Pona (M. learned it this spring; S. wants to), other conlangs, the delights of German syntax, and other things of great interest to them. They are not of particular interest to either Joy or me, but there is nothing like watching your kid light up as she finds someone who cares about the same things she does. They talked a mile a minute. This despite the seven-year gap in their ages. S. treated M. like a peer. We didn’t expect any less from her, but it was still cool.

Mookie is a ways from making decisions about post-high-school education, but for someone with a well-developed intellectual interest, college starts to be visible on the horizon. The week before our trip, her older cousin was visiting us and colleges, and we trooped along with him to Stanford. Visiting its linguistics department, and then MIT’s–both renowned, and currently emptied out by summer and COVID, of course, but adorned with photos of current students and professors–is the kind of thing that can make it all live in the imagination.

What MIT has that Stanford doesn’t, though, is bunnies. Yes, bunnies run wild and free on this big-city campus. Alerted to their presence, M. immediately said, “That’s it, I’m going to MIT.” I think she was joking . . .

Goodbye, middle school!

She has officially been promoted from 8th grade! The school did a lovely job of conveying pomp and circumstance via video yesterday (including playing “Pomp and Circumstance”), and today she dropped off the iPad, picked up the t-shirt and tassel, signed the Class of 2021 banner that will hang in the school next year, and posed for photos.

First (?) Mothers’ Day card

Made in kindergarten. Eight and a half years later, Mookie observes, “My Spanish was terrible.” It wasn’t that bad. (Translation of the card: “Thank you for giving me food and care. Happy Mothers’ Day, mothers of my family. I love my moms very much.”)

I love this period, in which we are distinguished by our hair length and our height, and because we are basically stick figures, the way she makes me taller is by extending my neck an even more extraordinary amount than Joy’s. No wonder she used to say I was a giraffe.

Christmas Still Life with Cat

It’s 7:08 on Christmas morning. How come the cat and I are the only ones awake? And who’s the kid in this family anyway? *drums impatiently*

As Joy is quick to remind me, when Mookie was born and we needed to figure out holidays, I didn’t even want to celebrate Christmas. “We’re Jewish Unitarian Universalists,” I said. “I don’t believe in Jesus Christ and all that.”

“Amy, you lead Christmas services every year!”

“Yes, well, that’s for my church . . . If I really celebrated the holiday that means the most to me, we’d just do Solstice.”

“Solstice, schmolstice,” she said. “I want presents!”

“So we’ll do Hanukah like when we were kids.”

“I celebrated Hanukah and Christmas when I was a kid.”

I snorted, though gently. “That seems like trying to have it all.”

“Yep! What’s wrong with that?” she said.

And that line of argument won. Being me, I have to justify it by recalling that I really am very happy Jesus was born. Happy birthday, Jesus!

Joy herself draws the line short of having a Christmas tree. However, the years of erosion from Mookie’s lobbying have led to this rosemary plant from Trader Joe’s now making back to back appearances. M. decorated it with earrings of mine. But we are definitely never putting up lights. Bah, humbug.

The stockings were hung from the postcard rack with care