September 25: Yesterday we celebrated the retirement of my dear colleague Lee. Teacher, advisor, comforter and dear friend, Lee saw and cultivated in me skills and passion I didn’t know I had. For 29 years, we have been a team. Our adventures launched us beyond the workplace to historical sites, long walks and beautiful places. Even our car rides were fun. Thank you, Lee, for the memories. We still have many places to see, many books to discuss and much love to share.
September 26: Standing on the street corner waiting to cross, my eyes follow the sunshine as I savored my first sip of coffee. The sun, on this lightly warm, lightly breezed autumn morning, illuminated what I can only describe as a small forest — right there on Pennsylvania Avenue, in the backyard of the neoclassical Treasury Department building. The trees wore the brittle green of creatures who don’t quite realize that their glory is yet to come and that they cling to a past that once gave joy but now can be released. They’ll understand soon.
September 27: The bus stop kids in our front yard were playing an elaborate and noisy game involving singing, running and screaming — right in front of my first-floor window. I knew Nate would soon walk among them to his car and, ultimately, to his job at another elementary school where he serves as a teacher’s assistant. Nate: tall, athletic, self-composed and early-morning solemn. I asked him if he scared the kids when he emerged from the house. Nate chuckled: “No. In fact, the other day, some random child ran up to me and asked, ‘Are you a teacher?’ — They can smell it on me.”
September 27: Kevin turned on the front yard sprinkler to refresh our parched front lawn. Sprinkles fell on the path outside my window, and the barest puddle formed. Soon, sparrows discovered this unexpected oasis. A dozen or more appeared, sipping droplets and scampering away just like little kids when water from the rotating sprinkler head swept over them.
Sept 28: What happens when your adult children have a small living room, you have a big one — and friends are coming from far away to celebrate a birthday? Well, you could string lights and tinsel, chop vegetables, lay tablecloths and light candles, and finally when the guests arrive: run! Kevin and I celebrated our dear Kasia’s birthday with all that — and with our own date night. Our evening culminated in a house-swapping night in the comfort of Chez Majka, while our own home hosted Kasia’s tired loving friends abed on all soft surfaces. I’m not sure what parts I loved best — the dinner, beer, bourbon and Grateful Dead music with our own friends, or the giving. I’m glad we did both.
Sept 29: The open car windows heighten the morning breeze and sunshine as I sat in the parking lot listening to Bruce Springsteen. Fans on satellite radio had chosen their 100 favorite songs, and we were at the top five. Listening at a time of (work) transition in my own life, I heard two messages: we need each other, and just keep trying. Bruce tells us that it really is a world of second and third chances. It really is a world where we can take risks and chase dreams, where we hold each other up when we might otherwise wilt, where purpose and meaning and love are real. “Oh, oh, come take my hand. We’re riding out tonight to case the Promised Land.” And Bruce promises that we can make it if we run together.
September 30: Happy Birthday, Kasha! And the Birthday Girl won the Monday night trivia contest at our local hamburger joint, Cowboy Cafe. Do you know which country has the internet suffix “me”? Or the three volcano states? Or the state where Poland Spring Water comes from? As the host said when he announced the name of the winning team, “Kashee Rocks”!
October 1: The small joys of my back-row solo seat at Nats Park: splendid views of the field and stands, breezes from the Anacostia River over my shoulder, a landing place for strolling friends, and the perfect perch for Nate — visiting from another part of the park — to drape his arms around me and lean in for a sideways kiss. (And the Nats won their first-ever postseason series! What a wild wildcard game it was!)
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Answers: Montenegro; dormant, active and extinct; Maine. Go team!