the bounty and the terror of the season is upon us

Christmastime is magical for this family, where the unanimous vote for “best holiday activity” is often “be together”. As corny as that sounds. As much as the world can find ways to make even that simple wish a struggle. It’s really true. And this week has been lovely. But unfortunately, a nightmare to our friends in Great Britain.

I mean, this is an actual headline in our world right now:

But, Béla’s been continuing to make new electronics projects every day with his advent calendar, including two versions of Whack-A-Mole. Yesterday, he also made gingerbread cookies…

Which were perfect, right up to realizing he also had to make his own royal icing to decorate them.

After an hour of listening to the hand mixer, we were all feeling a little less festive. The finished results of the royal icing were imperfect, but could at least be smeared on cookies. When asked her opinion, Claudia was uncharacteristically mild, and said to B., “I’m going to be Prue.” She gave Béla some uncharacteristically inspiring and gentle (Pruelike) advice… and then, taking a few more cookies, she returned to dancing.

Like I’ve said before, Claude has really been struggling, ten months away from her dance family. The online group Zoom classes that the company has been holding had not felt right for her, although she did try them. It was important to me that she knew she wasn’t obliged to feel the same way about seeing a low-resolution, two-inch square screen image of the dancers and drummers that she had sweated and danced with for years — it was not the same thing, and she didn’t owe anyone any explanation for why it wasn’t something she wanted to do. (“Zoom fatigue”, anyone? Yeah. Kids can get it too. Even about things they love. Kids actually have the ability to make qualitative value judgments, even when they know others are giving the best they have to give under tough circumstances. Dance is about discipline, but it is also about joy.)

I talked to a number of women in our Kulu Mele family. Watching her “lose” dance had sincerely felt like watching my child go without a needed medication. It’s been hard, and exponentially more so for her.

I knew she needed to dance again. I asked her about what she needed so that it would work for her, even if it wasn’t perfect. And we came up with something. A company dancer within Kulu Mele was willing to record a private video dance lesson — not live, but a recording Claude could watch on her own — with a relevant cultural lesson included. This way, Claudia could learn a specific dance at her own pace, and record her own video for feedback.

It was something I really had to budget for. (It won’t be something I can do very many times.) But BOOM. After almost a year, Claudia was dancing — for hours a day. First, her “bones hurt”, but not for long.

She practiced casually, with Marble.

Then it was clear that dance was again awakening within her, soothing and letting her express what she could not through writing or singing or anything else.

That is certainly one of the biggest changes in our daily lives in the last week or so. But I’d be very remiss in not mentioning another. In case you didn’t notice, that cat in the picture below… is not Marble.

OOPS, we did it again. But we didn’t make it a big surprise this time. We have been talking the last few months about how Marble, a child of Lockdown, has a really hard time when people leave the house. She cries if Tucker leaves to walk the dog. She is very easily lonely. And… we know Danpung is not forever. She’s twelve. And more playful than she used to be, but no match for a sixteen-month-old cat.

We made friends with a family from Lancaster at the IDLES concert in October of 2019. (The last live show we saw.) The Mom of the family works in cat rescue. We are always seeing her cute fosters on social media, and since we’d been talking about a sibling for Marble… one night, there he was. The most beautiful boy in the world, and inexplicably, the only one of his litter to have not found a permanent home. The only one. How? Who could resist this boy?

He arrived Thursday morning.

Marble was VERY jealous. There was never any physical contact, but plenty of hissing and growling, and the look on her face was just so sad. She felt so threatened. Dobby, for his part, also seemed dashed whenever Marble did not accept his shows of interest or greeting. He wanted very much to be liked by her.

Today they started to play together. This afternoon, while Dobby slept on Claudia’s bed, Marble crept in, lay her hand on his back, and fell asleep herself.

That’s it for now. Coming up soon: the JEM/maplethorpe christmas special with special guest joan jett!


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