Delights: November 11 to 17

November 11: As I walked through the halls of the elementary school today, a teacher greeted me by saying “Who are you today?” I answered with the name of a third-grade teacher.

Then I pondered the question. As a substitute teacher, my days necessarily entail stepping into whatever shoes the teacher leaves for me. I change my roles as often as I change my socks. All the while, though, I retain my essential “Carol Ann-ness.” (I don’t always talk about poop, I mean, urban sanitation. Today I thrilled the children by recounting the 1960s perils of missing the “beep” when you have been selected to advance the “film strip” during class. Some of you remember…)

But the question invited deeper reflection. What if I ask that question of myself every day? As Walt Whitman famously reminds us, I contain multitudes. Tomorrow I might inhabit the role of scholar; on Sunday, seeker; on Monday, friend. Or maybe I would go even deeper: I could dedicate each day to an attribute I cherish. Today I  could embody Generosity; tomorrow, Courage; Patience (yikes!) the day after that. Who will I be today? 

The children are returning. I think I’ll choose Calm.

Postscript: It didn’t work. Today — indoor recess, the “commutative property” in math, and no in-class aide — I barely made it through the day. I think I’ll take the next two weeks off!

Bonus: Happy Veterans Day. This is a photo of my father, Sam Siciliano, in his U.S. Navy uniform during World War II. Having been a sportswriter in civilian life, my Dad was journalist for the Navy. He served on the USS San Francisco, a cruiser-class ship, and reported on events, admirals and daily ship life throughout the South Pacific. I’m very proud of his service, the service of veterans in all wars — and the families that support (and dearly miss) them.

November 12: The elderly woman planted her walker at the base of the flagpole in her front yard. Ambling to the farmers market, I paused: “Are you raising the flag? Can I help?” She reached into the storage area under the walker’s seat and extracted the American flag. She replied, “Do you want to do it?” 

I’d never hoisted the American flag before, so, yes. The woman clipped the first grommet, tugged the cord, clipped the second and handed the cord to me. I hoisted; up went the flag, and we wrapped the cord around the flagpole cleats. 

“What’s your name?” she asked me. I replied and asked hers. We felt we knew each other. Perhaps I should have guessed, given her daily flag ceremony: she and her husband have dedicated their lives to public service in our town, our schools and even my own church. I thanked her for her dedication and for letting me help raise the flag.

Stop by again, she said. I will, I replied. 

Bonus: Kevin, Jeremiah and I saw the movie “Tár” last night. We left the (sort of) biopic awestruck, with so much to talk about — over beers immediately afterwards and pancakes today. I swore to Kevin and Jeremiah that I’d read the book review of Tár’s memoir “Tár on Tár,” but perhaps not . . . 🧐

You can watch the trailer here. 

Ghetto Wall #2, 1970, by David Driskell, American (1931-2020). Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine. I was scrolling through my photos looking for something and this image stopped me. I saw it last year during the Phillips Collection’s exhibition on David Driskell (who was a friend of Alma Thomas). I’m glad to linger with it again.

November 13: At the farmers market yesterday, I bumped into the parents of our town’s Urban Planner, who I was delighted to see a few weeks ago making a presentation at the Planning Board meeting. “I looked for you at the meeting,” I said. “We watched from home,” my friend said. Then she smiled. “How often do you get to watch your child at work?”

I thought of all my trips to the local bookstore—and a forthcoming winter of high school basketball (with Nate as assistant coach) — and smiled in agreement.

November 14: The preschool teachers guided their charges through the wonderful right-size playground. The sun warmed a bench on this chilly day. And there sat an elderly woman — a resident of the nearby Senior Living home — and her daughter, watching the children play. Perhaps she’ll see her own great-grand children on Thanksgiving Day.

Sadness: Two dear friends experienced tragic deaths in their families, one in August and one last week. Delights are still out there, but sometimes I don’t want to look.

The Great Farce: Portable Theatre, 2020, by Federico Solmi, b. 1973 in Bologna, Italy. Phillips Collection. I found this image too. This is how I feel.

November 16: Some of you may remember LeVar Burton as the host of “Reading Rainbow” on public television. Or as Geordi La Forge on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Or, if you board the way-back machine, as Kunta Kinte in Alex Haley’s “Roots.” Now he’s my regular companion on the podcast LeVar Burton Reads

Once a week, Burton selects, reads and briefly reflects on a short story by a contemporary (ish) writer. Burton’s voice is so soothing, his choices engaging, and his style — well, it feels like I’m tucked in for a bedtime story.

Today I listened to Burton read “Chivalry,” by Neil Gaiman, a charming story about an elderly lady who visits the local thrift shop before buying liver and onions for dinner. 

As though talking to me over a pot of tea, Burton mused, “I’m continually asking myself: when is it that I’m faced with someone who is bringing me something of value that I am refusing because of my adherence to the familiar?”

I’ll think about this question. Meanwhile, I offer you this lovely podcast as something of value. Maybe you’ll say yes. 

This lovely staircase in the Iowa State Capitol is a meditation in paint and iron.

November 17: Every few weeks, I treat myself to the world’s best cheesesteak. Whenever I walk into the restaurant, I get a hug from the head waitress and, now, a ten percent discount for “regulars.” Nice.

Bonus: Last week, I stood in the recess sunshine with a fourth grader who had jovially disregarded my every classroom instruction. I figured he’d sprint off to be with his friends. Instead, he bounced the ball in his hand and turned to me. “Would you like to play Four Square?”

Ok! I waited on the sidelines because the four squares quickly filled. “No!” he said, “We will play Six Square.” And eventually Eight Square. Any boy or girl who wanted to play was welcomed. I eventually worked my way up to King, and then quickly missed and returned to Guard Dog.

Maybe during recess I should hang out with the teachers, but it’s hard to say no to being Guard Dog.

Readers, to receive notifications by email each time I make a post, just scroll all the way down this page (next to the “word cloud”), look to the left and click on the black button that says “Join Me!” And if you think a friend might enjoy these, please share the Delight!

If you’d like to browse my past delights, please consult the “word cloud” featured at the very bottom of this post. Find a theme or two that interests you and sift through the sands. Or learn a bit more about my Blog by visiting my Welcome page. You’ll also see links to four essays that were published in print magazines. I’m glad you’re here!

13 thoughts on “Delights: November 11 to 17

  1. “When is it that I’m faced with someone who is bringing me something of value that I am refusing because of my adherence to the familiar?” This is such a great question. Simultaneously, it makes me want to reflect on it deeply….and run away screaming, pretend I never heard it and stick my head in the sand a bit longer! 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Well said. Even if I too run away screaming, the question gets me thinking about the “who” and the “what,” and maybe sparking my awareness just a bit.


  2. Very hard to resist being Guard Dog! Thank you to your father and his service to our country. How handsome he looks in his uniform. Holy cats, do l love David Driscoll’s work! Not surprised to learn that he was a friend of Alma Thomas. I will definitely be checking out Burton’s podcast.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Laurie, for appreciating Driskell’s work too. That piece just leapt out at me, both at the museum and months later on my phone. I am so happy to share it with you. And I hope you enjoy Burton’s podcast; it’s perfect for a winter walk in the woods!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the opening sentence….and paragraph. So many great pictures too, especially that staircase. I love how your posts always cheer me up on dull Fridays at work. Thank you for lifting my sprits again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Barbara. Your comments cheer me up too. I so enjoy our conversations, even if we’re not sipping an actual cup of tea together. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your vignettes about life make for good reading and provide food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment is so kind, Anne. I love the word “vignette.” I guess that’s what they are! I’m delighted you stopped by and said hello!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you so much for pointing me towards “something of value”. The Neil Gaiman tale is delightful, beautifully observed and gently witty. My favourite sentence: “[she noticed] they still hadn’t sold the stuffed cobra”…I love humorous writing of that ilk!

    Burton reads the story perfectly. Coincidentally, last night we watched, for the first time in years, an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. I’ve always found the Geordi La Forge character somewhat enigmatic – maybe because I can’t see his eyes? – and it still felt the same yesterday. I hadn’t realised until reading your post that Geordi and Kunta Kinte are one and the same!

    On a different subject, that staircase is stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Mr. P. — Thank you for listening to LaVar Burton read the Neil Gaiman story. (In fact, I just learned that my bookstore has received the collection of Gaiman short stories from which “Chivalry” was taken! Fun reading ahead.) I laughed out loud at the same quote: “[she noticed] they still hadn’t sold the stuffed cobra”!

      Interesting observation about Geordi’s masked eyes in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Maybe I’ll rewatch some episodes too and ponder. And yes, the staircase is beautiful! The entire library — the entire Iowa State Capitol building — was splendid.

      Liked by 1 person

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