Tag Archives: family

I’m out of words, I’m just going to draw things #5

14 Dec Thanksgiving table. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding, 2016.
Thanksgiving table. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding, 2016.

Aunt Perstephone’s Thanksgiving table. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding, 2016.

 

 

I drew this picture on Thanksgiving, which thanks to my lovely sister-in-law, had delicious food and a beautifully set table. I have no complaints about almost everyone in the whole family! Isn’t life interesting and complex! How boring life would be if everything were just easy all the time, and if everyone were just on the same page about how to act on special family occasions, don’t you agree? Anyway, dear Aunt Perstephone, this picture is for you, because you made everything so nice, and because you laughed when you saw me drawing and said that my drawings made everything look as if they were dancing. XOXOXO.

 

I’m out of words, I’m just going to draw things #2

15 Nov Chickpeas for dinner. Alexandra Hanson-Harding
Chickpeas for dinner. Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Chickpeas for dinner. Alexandra Hanson-Harding

 

I’m eating oatmeal while  child #2, the chef, is saying, “You know what would be delicious? Pancakes. You know what I want? Pancakes. You know what I wish someone would make me? Pancakes.” Father says, “There’s a package of pancake mix on the top shelf.”

“Pancakes pancakes pancakes.” says child. “Pancakes with a capital P. I want twenty tiny little pancakes that look like cereal but aren’t.” The rain is pouring down and he has a long nasty wait for the bus ahead of him to get into the city. It makes me sad, thinking of how many years I spent waiting at the same bus stop, rain pouring down the back of my legs, into my shoes. I’m more sorry for myself than the annoyance running around the kitchen.

“If only there were someone in this house who could cook.” I say. Child cooks at top restaurant in Manhattan. The other day when he was less annoying, he cooked us breakfast. Poached eggs that were lightly toasted in Panko and Afghan lamb spices, then fried, and served on top of sauteed brussel sprouts. “Poke the eggs so they go right on the sprouts,” he said.

How do you fry poached eggs? It’s like frying air. But they were delicious.

Okay, he started making the pancakes. He puts the mix into a small plastic bag, then cuts off the corner. “Piping bag!” he says. So fancy.

Husband says that he has to drink coffee or he’ll have organ failure. He read it in an article and it’s science.

“Big coffee’s feedin’ you a lie,” says child.

Child finishes his pancakes. They are the size of a quarter each.

So, a week ago, I woke up very confident about the state of this country. It was a beautiful Tuesday. September 11 was another beautiful Tuesday. The rain is drilling into the skylights.

Right now it seems very hard to want to leave this cozy little house with these crazy little people.

 

 

135journals: My husband’s first day as a free man

30 Jun
My dear husband will be wearing these glasses every day until forever. Promise!

My dear husband will be wearing these glasses every day until forever. Promise!

Yesterday was the first day of the rest of  Brian’s life. That is to say, it was the first Monday of his life as a member of the retired. What will he do with this endless expanse of possibility? Right now, his intention is to keep it open. He hasn’t spent the last whatever years of his life teaching Asian literature for nothing. The beautiful spareness of Chinese poetry pulls at his heart. So does the Japanese concept of Ma, or negative space. Although, in the Japanese thought Ma has a much more dynamic and interactive meaning than not being. It is part of the fabric of the whole, a part of the dance of possibilities. Oh dear, I am getting very abstract here. What I mean is, my husband is bravely trying to let himself be open and to find out what calls to him. And I am very interested to see what this human being to whom I’ve been married for the past 30 years is going to discover.

His first no-longer-employed Monday was not entirely filled with Ma. I had an appointment with a famousy-famous hip surgeon to see if I needed hip surgery at the famousy-famous Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. I didn’t think I needed hip surgery, but another one of my doctors thought, well, maybe, I don’t know, just check it out, so grumblingly, I did. I reorganized my gigantic binder of tests and visits and brought it in. And this time, I brought Mr. HH with me. Despite my relative certainty that I wouldn’t need surgery (maybe some kind of injection though because of osteoarthritis?) I did feel afraid. I’ve gone to many scary doctor appointments by myself, and most of the time I’ve managed okay, but sometimes I come out of them with this jumble of notes that don’t make any sense because I’ve felt a rushing of panic clogging my ears when the doctor was giving me information. So the dear husband and I agreed that he would come to scary appointment and be a second set of ears for me. Anyway, I had some X-rays, talked to perfectly nice doctor, don’t need surgery, then husband and I had a pleasant walk around the Upper East Side.

“Look at that building,” Brian said, pointing to an old brick building. “A Czech gymnasium. I see a lot of Czech names around here” (near 70th and York).

“I think  a lot of Czechs and Germans settled this neighborhood,” I said. “Every part of Manhattan is so different.”

“It’s so different when you walk it,” he said.

“I know what we should do!” I said. “We should get a big map of Manhattan and get a yellow marker and color in every street we walk after your retirement. And we should walk every street in Manhattan!”

“Where does anybody even get a map nowadays?” he said. “Everybody has GPS.”

“Huh.” I was stumped, too. Maybe off the internet? Barnes and Noble? I don’t know.

He looks at his phone. “There’s a gourmet shop ten blocks away. We can get cheese.” Cheese is part of his holy trinity of consumables, along with coffee and bread. So we wandered uptown past more stores. We people watched. I saw lots of people walking dogs. I saw a woman carrying a dog. I saw lots of doggy day care businesses. There is no shortage of dogs in New York. And I almost never, ever see dog poop. So, good work, New Yorkers. The Upper East Side is full of uniformed private school kids who burst out into the streets at 3:30 or so, along with moms and dads and nannies with strollers. I see a schlumpy looking guy in a Gilligan hat and pink socks lumping across the street. People wearing neon-bright sneakers–that’s a thing now, I guess. Lots of women with pretty legs and short skirts and little sandals. Workers with hard hats ignoring interested onlookers. Street sellers hawking fruit, scarves, books, watches.

At the gourmet shop we buy two small pieces of ridiculously expensive cheese and linger over other delicious but outlandishly expensive items–gluten free lemon bars, figs, bright red $5.99 a pound tomatoes. As we leave we see the pasta hanging on the line. They had gluten free ravioli for $12.99 a pound. We passed. We’ve made homemade pasta before, but it is a pain. Still, I liked watching it hanging there.

We two flaneurs amble back to our car, driving home through rush hour,  but the traffic still isn’t TOO bad. We listen to a podcast. “The drive was only one This American Life long,” Brian says. He makes chicken and salad and pasta for dinner and I fold clothes. I run off to my book group and when I get home, he is sitting on the back deck in the semi-darkness,  looking at the trees and the sky above.  His hands are folded behind his head. He smiles at me, and in that smile I see a happiness formed of the possibility of a joyful anything to come.

Writing prompt: What possibilities do you see?

Three Different Years, Same Date: Entries From My 135 Journals

16 Mar
Mrs. 135 Journals with her demon spawn Jacob circa 2011. Photo by demon spawn's paternal unit, Mr. Hanson-Harding.

Mrs. 135 Journals with her demon spawn and cabbage skeptic Jacob circa 2011. Photo by demon spawn’s paternal unit, Mr. Hanson-Harding.

One of the benefits of keeping a journal since forever is seeing how life changes and how it stays the same. Here are entries from three different March 16ths, chosen completely at random. One thing that has remained the same—boys, both brothers and sons (and friends and boyfriends and husbands, or, shall we just say, husband!)—have been a constant source of amusement in my life. And I’m glad it doesn’t smell like a dead mouse under my bed anymore!

Sunday, March 16, 1975 I don’t get along with anyone except the parents and Craig and the Dog. Which is a majority, but just barely. I do get along with the other three sometimes. But not often.

Guess what? I get to BABYSIT. I have to cook: Ugh. Robbie shrieked to Mom and Dad, “Don’t go. DOOOOOOOOOONNN’T GO!” But they went.

March 16 1994, Wednesday

Now I’m on my way back home after visiting the baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Dr. Mark Ehrlich the plastic surgeon. I got a shot of cortisone in the scar I got under my nose from falling on that ice patch. It really hurt.

“That looks as if it hurt more than I thought it would,” Dr. Erlich said sympathetically. I like him. After I saw Jakie and went to the doctor, I went shopping. I actually did a lot of walking today, too. I walked from Port Authority up to the hospital (59th and 9th) to the doctor’s office 61st and fifth, then wandered up to 68th and back to Port Authority. It still smells like a dead mouse under my bed.

March 16, 2011 The other day Jake said, Why do I have to study? Why can’t I just do the studying montage?”

Also, last night he said, disgustedly, “What is it with you two and cabbage? It’s the food of PEASANTS”

He was shocked for a moment to learn that once upon a time, so was lobster, but then he said, “Well, that makes sense. It’s just a CRUSTACEAN.”

Writing Prompt: Can you remember what you were doing and whom you were with on any past March 16?

We Are Almost Out of Year!

31 Dec
Journal entry, December 30, 2014

My poor husband must submit to being the subject of truly terrible drawings of his unbelievably handsome countenance. Here is part of my penultimate journal entry of 2014.

So this is the sorry state of the latest journal of Ms. 135journals or so. Paint splatters from a painting on the other side of the paper. Not a very handsome likeness of Mr. 135journals. Conversation about drywall and counter mounted compost bins. An experiment with using gel medium as a transfer technique for a picture of a woodpecker that wasn’t entirely successful. But–despite the house construction, the health problems, the dented fender, the mess in my art room, I feel very lucky to have this year. I am so glad to have had time to learn about art, to read books, to talk to friends, to share a life with this beautiful creature whom I have loved since we were teens. I am proud of my wise children, and of the family I grew up with, and the one I married into. And of my family of friends.I I have had some grim times this year, but there hasn’t been a single day where I haven’t had a chance to learn something interesting and new in our great world of wonders. Even on the worst days, there is (are?) Kim Kardashian’s butt problems to amuse me. I haven’t lived up to all my hopes for myself. I haven’t been as good a friend as I wanted to be. I did not do enough to ease my friends’ sufferings, and I hope I do better next year.  I did not drop XX number of pounds. I didn’t finish writing my novel. But oh how lucky I am to have had this difficult, beautiful, year. It was a like my messy journal, full of experiments, boring little everyday details, splashes of color, wrinkles, and nostalgia. It surprises me, as I wrote (illegibly) in the entry above, that we are “almost out of year!” I hope that you readers–and thank you so much for reading this very scattered and eclectic blog!–found some good in this year, and that next year will unlock a new treasure chest of wonders for you as well.

Writing Prompt: What surprised you this past year?

December 2013 Statistics:

8 Jan

 

Image

The ghost of Christmas Present certainly raises the stakes in the Christmas jollity department. (Wikimedia commons)

 

Number  of Christmas decorations put up compared to our excellent across-the-street neighbors: 0/100

# of Christmas trees bought, put up and decorated by Jewish child and his charming Jewish girlfriend: 1

Quality of Jewish Christmas treeputtingup in our house: Awesome! We may never need to use Protestants again!

Certainty that steak frites would be ordered at Christmas Eve dinner by at least two members of family: 100 percent.

Best gift: an elegant cloche in a hatbox from son #1.

Sad thing we remember each year: Candy canes make charming tree decorations and in fact seem somewhat essential, but staring 24 candycanes in the face in January is depressing because basically, they kind of suck. Was this seriously the best kind of candy kids could get back in the day? Tragic.

Annual Mixed Marriage December Debate: Jewish husband—Why would children need anything more than ONE good present. Protestant wife—kids need lots of crap to unwrap! Winner: lucky children!

Last Glimpse: Visiting with my sister’s beloved golden retriever Molly, a dog so sweet and people-loving that she endured endless costume changes, including wigs and full outfits from creative niece, and each night Molly would wait for sister to tuck her into her dogbed with her own pink blanket. Rest in peace, Molly.

Hours spent by Son number 2 not deciding what he wanted for Christmas despite the fact that everyone knew he wanted a longboard: 1,573.

When the Christmas tree is coming down: Pretty sure that sucker has moved in.

Number of movies seen about French peasant life in the 1970s that consisted of realllllly long scenes of a 2000 year old lady cutting up potatoes and 20 minutes of an old dude picking up bundles of wood silently: One. Too many.

Huge fights on Christmas day: Zero!

Percentage of extremely long and confusing movie Cloud Atlas seen while lying in a torpor on the couch on Christmas day: about 60 percent. I think.

Number of times Santa has gotten away with putting shampoo and toothbrushes in stockings: Since Jesus was a baby. 

Boxes of chocolate given to husband by well-mannered students: I’m sure it was zero, as I begged husband not to let me see it so I didn’t faceplant myself on some nougat thing.

Cutest little things seen: my 2 baby grandnieces. Grandnieces!!

Good wish I hope comes true: Brother looks me in the eye with the sweetest look and says “I sure hope your 2014 is better than your 2013.”

Favorite Christmas Video: http://mashable.com/2013/12/20/auteurs-of-christmas-video/.

Lesson still not learned: Putting banana PEELS in your pocketbook is not as problematic as half bananas, but it is not entirely problem free.

Writing prompt: How was YOUR Christmas?