In this life, we don't call all the shots. Another year of work and preparation, ingredients carefully measured and mixed, hands sore from kneading, stretching, folding — they yield only dough, full of possibility and potential but also contingency, an initial condition incompletely specified. Here again are Advent and Christmas, times of anticipation and grace. God willing, the yeast will be good and the loaf will come out, our hopes fulfilled. In the meantime, we wait; we look to the rising.
This has indeed been a year of work and preparation for our family. Nearly five now, Jessie works at drawing little girls and cutting out gingerbread men, telling jokes and cycling without training wheels. She has lost two front teeth and always seem to have Wagon Wheel stuck in her head (she knows every word). At three, Martha is fiery as ever and entirely determined to keep up with her sister. She prepares narrative adventures for stuffed animals and keeps her dolls' hair carefully brushed. (But not her own hair — ouch!) Both girls rise before the sun to don their princess dresses and attend an early-morning ball. Both have moved from a wonderful nursery school to an also wonderful pre-K program, where they make books and march in parades. Most exciting of all, their teachers braid their hair.
Neely's yoga work has been on the rise. This year she began teaching at a different studio that offers more opportunity, and she also began teaching yoga four days a week at an inner-city high school. She has finished her first semester of business classes (aced 'em) and is working toward a future in accounting. Neely continues to take the lead as we foster greyhounds (13 and counting) and keeps herself thoroughly busy while the girls are in school. She even squeezed in trips to baby showers for Lauren in Chicago, and Shamain in NOVA, with Jessie and Martha in tow. Whew!
Me, I look to the rising of professional opportunity in the game of academia. I enjoy my work and colleagues and am pleased with the progress, but never quite forget that a postdoc position is temporary. Perhaps the preparations and potential will pay off soon with a professorship. In the meantime I have enjoyed work trips to Portland and Long Beach, not to mention two excellent (decidedly non-work) backpacking trips in the White Mountains.
New Haven grows and grows on us. Our block is full of playmates for Jessie and Martha and our neighborhood is full of friends, though we miss the ones who have moved to Morocco! All in all, this town is awfully nice for quality of life. We've enjoyed sharing the place with those who have visited: the Thorson-Renomerons, Jane, Dan, Ann, the Hastings, and Jonathan. We've also enjoyed getting away to visit family and friends in Bethesda, Covington, Philadelphia, Litchfield Beach, Montgomery, and Greenville. And this year we were delighted to help celebrate the weddings of Hannah and Joshua, Lorna and David, and Anne Cooper and Owen.
All along we remember the dough, the nascent glimmer of future joys yet to emerge from today's love and toil. Will this loaf rise, its rich smell filling our world, or must we wait for the next? A moment passes, chance and fate work their entangled magic, and when the time is right, all becomes clear in retrospect. The Dave Rawlings Machine sings, “This is the dawn, the break of day, after the midnight pardon / These ringing ears have waited years to hear the bells of Harlem.” Look to the rising in 2011: may possibility and potential, borne through chance, bring bells to your ringing ears.