Delights: May 6 to May 12

May 6: I’m sitting with my toes practically resting against the screen door to our patio. Rain is coming and chill is already here. But so is the breeze, the birdsong, the fountain burble — and someone’s barbecue. The aroma comes and goes. I don’t want to step away; there might be dessert.

May 7: I had one more garden chore this morning, so I laced up my work shoes, stuck my limbs into my now-clean gardening togs, and grabbed a shovel to widen a bed: my neighbors had three volunteer Hoogendorn Japanese Holly bushes and offered them to me to fill a landscaping hole. 

I rounded the corner of our house and stopped short. While I relaxed yesterday, my wonderful neighbors had prepared the bed and planted the shrubs. 

The holly is not the only thing that’s growing between our homes. 

May 8: Ah, Venice. My passport is up to date, but all I needed today was a Metro card to take me there. On this cold rainy day, I crossed sunny canals, basked in light reflecting off corner churches, and peered over the shoulders of women stringing colorful glass beads. Today was the last day of the Smithsonian’s “Sargent, Whistler and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano” exhibit and I marveled at the museum’s display of paintings, etchings and glass objects.

I lingered everywhere. While it’s hard to pick a favorite, I think I best loved seeing the pieces belonging in the collections of private families, not museums. That beautiful John Singer Sargent pulses every day on their wall; I will see it in person only this once. 

Meanwhile, in the museum courtyard, a little girl in a yellow dress and purple boots splashed in canals of shallow water laid for that purpose. We had each found our own Venice. 

On the Way to the Public Garden, by Francis Hopkinson Smith (1895) (Smithsonian American Art Museum)
Corner of the Church of San Stae, by John Singer Sargent (1913) (private collection)

Bonus: A Mother’s Day poem by Samantha Reynolds of bentlily

Thank you for not being selfless

Thank you for not
being selfless,

for not erasing
who you were
after you had me.

You added more
to yourself
not less.

You showed me
when it was my turn
to be a mother
that devotion
is not a leak,

that we can love
unconditionally
only if we practice
on ourselves.

Venetian Market Scene (Sotoportego del Magazen), by Julius LeBlanc Stewart (1907) (private collection)

Three days a week, while my sister and I were growing up in the 1960s and early 1970s, my mother caught a train to New York City (and worked from home Mondays and Fridays). She nourished both a successful career as a fashion designer and two thriving daughters. She served on our town’s council, drafted master plans, and led our Brownie Troop. I wanted to grow up to be just like Mom. And maybe I did. 

May 9:  The assistant principal certainly didn’t hear me singing in the garden last week, because he let me substitute in the Music class. I began with my beloved fifth graders. 

In the spirit of improv, I said “yes” to their suggestions: let’s sing the Gummi Bear song! Let’s play “chicken on the fence post!” (That game involves marching in a circle and singing to a rubber chicken.) But we started by naming the first songs they had learned as toddlers. “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” “You Are My Sunshine.” “The Star-Spangled Banner.” (Clearly a baseball fan, that one.) 

Finally, someone shouted “Happy Birthday.” “Thank you,” I said. Catching on quickly, they serenaded me with gusto. (And being fifth graders, they sang the monkey version, but I was fine with that.) Eventually, we got to the lesson, but “Happy Birthday” still echoed in my heart. I have four more classes. And that means four more Happy Birthday songs!

Fish and Eel Vase, attributed to Vittorio Zanetti (ca. 1890). Happily this beauty is in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

May 10: I drove along a suburban road into a scattering of soap bubbles. I craned my neck back and forth, but I couldn’t find the child who unleashed the joy. I rolled up to a stop light. In the left-turn lane a heating and air conditioning truck puffed clouds of bubbles from the driver’s window. The truck eventually turned. One last bubble drifted in front of my windshield and winked goodbye.

Leaving Church, Campo San Canciano, Venice, by John Singer Sargent (ca. 1882) (private collection, and my favorite)

May 11: I was ready:  I fasted, I wore a sleeveless top, and I decided I would blame any weight gain on my shoes. My doctor greeted me. Would I consent to a student shadowing her? Sure. 

My doctor asked the usual questions, did a few assessments and bade me a cheerful adieu. “Goodbye, doctor. Goodbye, student,” I said.

A few moments later the nurse arrived to draw blood and update my vaccinations. How would I feel if the student administered my shots and drew my blood? Um, ok.

I watched as the nurse showed the student a three-finger measuring trick to avoid the shoulder. (“Feel free to aim at a freckle,” I offered.) I listened as the nurse coached the student on injection technique. (“Like you’re throwing a dart,” I interpreted.) And I gazed at the needle marks on the nurse’s arm. (“She’s been practicing on me,”the nurse said.)

I felt the disinfecting alcohol and my nurse’s cool hand in mine. (As a teaching tool, I decided I could use a bit of comfort.) And then, as I gazed out the window, I felt the pressure of two shots. Not bad.

Then the blood work. Wow! “That,” I said, “was one of the best needle pricks I’ve ever had. And I’ve had lots. Top 10%. Maybe even top 5%. And I’m sorry for calling you ‘Student.’” 

“That’s ok. My name is Jessica. You know I won’t forget you.”

“Goodbye, Jessica. I won’t forget you either.”

“Girl on a Swing with Rhododendron,” as seen from our window to our side yard, which doubles as a bus-stop playground.

May 12: I slipped away from my substitute teaching gig to attend an afternoon Washington Nationals game. I had just settled into my peaceful seat when a little boy leaned over and explained to me that every batter gets only three chances to get a hit. Well, not quite. So I explained foul balls, strikes and balls. And then, a little later, I explained double plays to more kids who clustered behind me.

The usher soon escorted the school group to a section nearby. “I thought about putting them in front of you,” the usher confided to me, “but I figured you didn’t want to teach baseball all afternoon.”

Maybe he’s right. But at least that’s a subject I know!

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10 thoughts on “Delights: May 6 to May 12

  1. That looks such a great exhibition! Thanks for sharing so much of it in your post. Wonderful. Glad your doctor’s visit went well…sounds like the student nurse was excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The exhibit was indeed beautiful; I had to make difficult choices regarding the objects to show. And the student was great. She’s studying to be a doctor. The nurse told her how grateful her nurses will be when they discover that their doctor is skilled with a needle too!

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  2. Another beautifully crafted piece, Carol Ann. I love “One last bubble drifted in front of my windshield and winked goodbye.” And the Fish and Eel Vase is a stunner! Best wishes to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mr. P., for your kind words. The word “wink” is fun, isn’t it? The fish and eel vase is indeed amazing. So many details. And the fish’s expression! It’s not a friendly visit by the eel.

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  3. Hi Carol Ann! I love these every single week, and so does Don, to whom I always read selections and sometimes the whole because they make me so happy and I want to share. One of these days soon I’ll be ready to head south to see you live and in person or have you head here. I know we will figure it out. With excitement and a smile on my face at the thought of that – Joan

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, hi, Joan! Thank you so much for your encouragement and very kind words! And please tell Don I say hello. I look forward to seeing you both in person very soon, with a smile on my face too!

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  4. Ahh, really? Happy birthday was on May 8th? (I finished the last of my birthday cake right now.) Even if not, I’m glad you got many rounds of the song, a beautiful Italian exhibition, a successful doctor’s visit, and a thoughtful gift by the neighbours. And then you gift it all to us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was a lovely birthday on May 9, although I did truly celebrate on May 8 with a “trip” to Italy on May 8. I was thinking of you! Thank you for sharing it with me in your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Beautiful that you thought of me. May 9, now I know!

        Liked by 1 person

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