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08 December 2013


I had extra time this weekend. I could have gotten ahead in grading, but instead I finished a gift, baked cookies, made stock, and put up a tree. 

That's "Cat Ballou" above, made by Margaret Swanson-Vance of Seattle. This little stuffed and winged kitty has been decorating my trees for more than thirty years. 

The weather closed my school district down on Friday—that's what gave me extra time. We still have snow in the front yard, and we're feeling the cold and dry air. We expect to lose some plants. The hydrangea wasn't fully dormant, but temperatures have been in the teens for three days. I am afraid that our little Meyer lemon may not have been adequately protected. We talked about whether to bring it inside, but instead we covered it when the temperatures went down. The lemons are very tasty, and many are still green. I hope it survives the next days.

I am a person of passions, and though I value calm, and I can find peace in my heart… sometimes, that is not my default setting. I raise my voice, swoon over beautiful things, get angry about what I see as injustice. I am not an evenly happy person.

Some people seem to be consistently happy or at least cheerful, even-tempered, fair in most every thing. I only try to be those things. 

This isn't humility, it's just the truth. I strive to be excellent; I am not that thing. 

It is enough to strive toward what we value, I think. We should not reproach ourselves when we cannot always master our vision of the ideal. We are only human. 

We are weak and imperfect, we find fault and lay blame, and in rare moments we accept our own flaws and soldier on, making the best of who and what we are. 

Being human is what I am. Life gives me sweet lemons, and there is more in the world than lemonade to be made. And if tomorrow the lemons are gone, I will watch for some other fruit to satisfy my hunger. 


  1. The secret of life is the striving, which is why winning the lotto doesn't work

    1. Too true. We need a purpose, and the money to accomplish that purpose may be part of it, but it's not a worthwhile goal in itself. Focusing on that ancillary bit of the process and not the real work to get someplace meaningful is a problem. Focusing on the money makes people greedy, selfish, and ultimately trivial.

  2. 'Yes' to both Anonymous's point and your reply, Jan. Sometimes I try to be content with just 'being', but I feel that the need to be useful, to produce something meaningful in our lives, is one of our basic human needs. I also like the self-compassionate response in the second half of your piece; we sometimes fail at being what we strive to be, but we wouldn't be human if we never failed!

    The flying cat is gorgeous. It's a catwing! :)


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