Tuesday, November 11, 2008

11/11: Great New World

I just can't get over it: whenever I forget about the election, the delight of the thought will swim up and overwhelm me again. BARACK OBAMA WON THE ELECTION! Isn't that great? I just can't stop feeling delighted. What a change.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

9/27: Small Contentments

We are moving out of the minutia-packed days of early school (sorry; my hair is being chewed by our old cat; she loves wet hair with chlorine in it and I just finished my swim. It's funny and quite distracting as she switches chewing with lovingly rubbing her head all over mine, purring) and into a more stable fall feeling. Whew! We're due for a wet, wet weekend due to Hurricane Ike, which, depending upon which weather service one believes, might make landfall in Bar Harbor; Younger Son and I just finished our morning of chores; Elder is in New Hampshire for an xc meet that he's not even running in, and BH cancelled his planning fishing trip, planned on visiting his dad, dad said no, so BH made happy plans to stay home, then Dad said please come. In other words: BH is being a good son. My hat is off to him, and. . .

to show my respect for his goodness as a son, Younger and I went to the dump for the family today. This trip led to little contentment #1: I drove the pickup flawlessly (more cat love on the hair; this is a riot. Younger just said, "I think chlorine gets cats high like catnip" and I am thinking I agree.), we got all the garbage, we didn't lose any lids or bags, and even though I had never done a dump run solo, I didn't do anything dumb. Twelve bucks for a month's worth of garbage; we used to pay $40 for the service. Yay!

AND (contentment #2) we got 4 bags of bulbs--two of daffs (my favorites), one of tulips and one of hyacinths--and after my swim I headed out to the newly flattened remnants of the fill/manure piles in the front yard and planted all four. It's earlyish, but Mom has taught me well: the time to do most garden things is WHEN YOU HAVE TIME. So my bulbs are in, due for a good soaking, and my tasks are done; we hope next spring we'll be honored and surprised by a gorgeous display of flowers right when we most need them--April and May.

I plan on a toasted cheese for lunch, then Younger and I will work on his flannel pj pants for a bit and then I plan to finish the random sock I started that turned into a sock for BH since there was enough yarn in one skein for his big foot--and I have two skeins! That's a contentment too, even though there's another one to do now. But small graces suffice these days: I'll also make some bread, thus filling our cups nearly up. The enormous sock is pictured below; the smile is that of a woman who can drive a standard pickup, make a dump run, swim for 40 mins, and plant 40 bulbs. Content, indeed!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

9/13: Back to School and the Outside World

Well, that golden summer is over, and we're all back to various busy-nesses and pleasures. School with two brand new classes--one that must be invented from the ground up!--is "professionally challenging" indeed, but good things are happening. I admire our willingness to change stuff and to take risks in our teaching, and also our commitment to mixing it up: we had both a guest speaker and a day out and about the campus with GPS this week! Yay, us!

Knitting right now is a huge pair of socks for BH with some destash yarn from a friend. It is crazy striped and quite loud, but so far the press I've gotten, while knitting at various Younger Son school meetings, has been positive. I'm on the heel--making my favorite "eye of partridge" version. We'll see how it all comes out!

And. . the house is a mess, mess, mess. I will do the necessaries today: picking up, scrubbing toilets and sinks, wiping counters, but will also draft a want ad for the local paper to ask for a cleaning person once every two weeks. We thought we had someone lined up, but turns out TUESDAY and "can squeeze us in, tho not happy about it" were deal-breakers. If I'm parting with my hard-earned cash, I'd like it Thursday or Friday, and I'd like to have someone who's pleased to have the work. Seems simple enough. AND if push comes to shove, I can do it myself once a month, completely thoroughly, and then do a "whore's bath" as planned for today more often.

The political situation continues to worry me, though donating $50 to Obama and firing off an email to my family and friends asking them to do the same has made me feel a little more hopeful. I simply cannot understand how people can consider continuing the trend of the last eight years in any way: war, skyrocketing costs, loss of options and support for people enduring hard times, basic freedoms under attack, did I mention war? And the Palin thing, I have suddenly realized, is a huge non-issue: she has ovaries, yes, but she represents a party which has continuously and gleefully shown its disregard for women and for issues that affect them and all human beings. End of story. The wolf in Little Red Riding Hood put on a nightie to dress up as Grandma but it was still a wolf! I sincerely hope that the people whose rights and lives are the most in the balance--the lower and middle classes, women, minorities, young people who will inherit this world, new immigrants, teachers, real Christians who get Jesus' message, any religious people who get their religion's message--will rise up and speak their needs and hopes in this election. Still, I get a sick feeling in my stomach every time I see a McCain sticker. Breathing and hoping help!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

7/29: Still July!

It's about 9 am on this Tuesday; boys are gone to work and to camp; husband is returning from his fun overnight to Boston. The workmen next door are certainly there; I woke up at 5 with Elder and have been up since, making blueberry cake for lunch with my friend Cathi and reading more Jane Eyre; it's getting close to the end (within 100 pages!).

Our little chickens have ventured into the downstairs of their pen today and are investigating the outdoors, which is fun to watch. However, I'm also keeping an eye on the cats, who have been casually (cat-sually?) surveying the whole set up. . . We hope to keep these two safe from various predators but also to allow them fresh air and some roaming, so it'll be good to get the balance right now.

My sourdough is on its fourth? iteration. This time I'm just feeding the starter and letting it grow and bubble. The third batch of bread was the closest to edible--Lyle and I both had pieces--but it was definitely not risen enough. The trouble shooting is frustrating because it says, "Could have risen too much, or not enough"; " could have been baked at too high heat, or the oven could have been too cool." Well, thanks a lot. I don't like wasting flour and time, so I'd prefer to have clearer feedback! The whole wheat flour and a little more warmth seem to have made a difference in the starter so far; I'll coddle it a few more days and then try one. more. time. and see where we end up!

Bike ride today, I think: my heel still hurts a LOT at some times and I think a week off from running is key. I am on my feet a lot regardless so I'm trying for no-impact exercise rather than just switching to walking, and it's also interesting for me to try no formal workouts as I am such a structure junkie. But: riding around and then down to the church to deadhead for a while should get me some sweating without pain.

Summer! It's still JULY--and I love it. Getting the prep done for Global Lit. and then having that great meeting on Saturday were key steps in taking care of that greasy bubbling guilt/dread pit that can emerge when I think of the End of August. . . How long it takes me to learn: procrastination is NOT my friend!

Off to hang up the wash.

Monday, July 21, 2008

7.21: Meme from various places

What was I doing 10 years ago?
July 21, 1998: probably a lot like what I'm doing now, enjoying summer home with my family, but then the boys (who would then have been FIVE AND TWO!!) would've been asleep and--well, my husband and I would've been too! In the other house, with a different dog, and different cats.

5 things on my to do list for today (actually, tomorrow, since it's 9:35 pm)

1. work out: a long fast walk with the dog before it gets too hot or I get worn out doing the next item: DONE!!!

2. finish cleaning out and prepping the study, then PAINT IT with help from Elder and Friend! This will gobble most of the day. DONE: painted and somewhat reconstructed but much "yit" to put back in!! Still, I'm delighted.

3. type up a newsletter for the Mission Board at church and also minutes from Library trustees. DONE: just now.

4. shape the sourdough for its final rise, then bake it. DONE: but this was TERRIBLE again. Doughy and flat and holey. Hmmmm.

5. as always, email Julie. DONE: numerous times!

FANTASY To DO Additions: knit, work on quilt, finish Jane Eyre, plan Global LIt. Unit. . . AND do everything listed above!

Snacks I enjoy: good cheese and crackers; mixed nuts; Moore Leamon iced tea; good barbeque potato chips; cookies and tea in winter

Things I would do if I were a billionaire
Take the whole family to the UK for a walking/fishing/putzing around vacation; give money to the Library for an addition; buy a bunch of supergreen cars and give them to people; give random people who need it sneaky gifts of money; establish scholarships in honor of great teachers I've had and people I've loved

Places I have lived: Ellsworth Maine; Southwest Harbor, Maine; Nantucket, MA; S. Hadley MA; Colchester, England, Ashburnham, MA; Poland, ME; Northfield MA; Lewiston ME; Annville, PA

Jobs I have had: teacher! cleaning lady! bookstore clerk! ice cream scooper! Prep cook! kitchen worker! dishwasher! kennel worker! babysitter! tutor! Staff at writing center! Editor!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Heartwarming: 7/4/08

My older son is nearly fifteen (four more days!). He's a nice kid: funny, popular, mostly responsible, great with little kids, smart. He's also fourteen/fifteen, so he's incredibly annoying: moody, addicted to "screentime" (which we/I limit, so we battle constantly), messy, forgetful, demanding, selfish. . . Well, I did say he's great with little kids. And he hasn't been arrested, fathered a child, or flunked a class. Yet.
A friend of ours called us to see if Elder would be willing to help at a carnival put on by the Rotary in Bar Harbor on the Fourth. They run a bunch of kids' games and activities: Elder said yes, and even convinced one of his friends, also spiny, spiky, funny, arrogant, smart, fun, good at heart, to help out as well. They set out at seven a.m.
At one pm, my beloved husband and I went to pick them up from their five hour shift in the baking hot sun at the ball field. They had been doing face painting--both are good artists. Both are tall. Both were scrunched down in teeny little plastic kiddie chairs as they painted tiny butterflies, flags, flowers, snails, smileys, and more on tiny little cheeks. I watched in delight, lump in my throat, as these two gigantic boys tucked tiny curls of white blonde hair behind pink ears, listened to whispered requests, dealt with kids whose heads whipped around and up and down--disaster for a face painter!
Time ticked on, the line stayed full, and neither boy wanted to tell anyone, "Sorry, we're closed!", so they kept painting for an extra forty-five minutes. . . and the best painting was the last. Two blonde boys, one probably 4 and one maybe six, arrived. Friend asked the first one, "What would you like?"
The kid whispered something, and Friend had to ask him to repeat it, which he did: "A beard. AND a moustache!"
Once his brother heard, he wanted to same, so Elder got to paint a set as well. Friend's moustache was pencil thin, like Jimmy Buffett's song, and connected to a hairline black beard that followed the little chin. Elder created a thick brown beauty complete with curly ends and finished the six year old off with a gingery soul patch underneath. Both little boys leapt out of their seats and ran to admire themselves in the mirror, mugging, grinning, scowling, yawning, giggling with the wonder of it all. Facial hair at last!
When the bearded boys and their laughing parents left, we helped clean up the booth and herded the artistes off for pizza and ice cream and some well-earned rest. Even now, however, I can see those big hands tilting small faces up to the light, gently moving ponytails, carefully creating leopard faces and pirate scars. They are so many different things all at once--I need to remember that my boy, any boy, any person, is not just one thing. And many of those facets are wonderful.

Monday, June 30, 2008

6/30: The Sun Comes out on the Last Day of June!

Wow. It's been grey and dank the past 4 days, and it was terrific to have it clear up around 1 pm today--especially as it was after my eye dr's app't, complete with pupil dilation, etc. My eyes are back to normal now, and I've done a little gardening, a little emailing, and am on the back deck, about to get out my banjo for the first time in a long time!

Am currently enjoying In the Bleak Midwinter (sorry; can't make it italicize!) by Julia Spencer-Fleming, a murder mystery set in upper NY state, with the two main characters a cop and a female Episcopalian priest. The writing is very strong--I don't click out of the storyline due to awkward writing or too much telling, and the plot moves well. I've recommended it to my mom and a friend's mom, and I'm curious about what they think.

Oh the sun through the leaves all around me! Everything is so green and lush (the side benefit of so much moisture!) that it's hard to take in. Since I'm an oral processor, I have to watch that I'm not saying, "I can't believe it's so lovely!" fifteen times a day. Even my younger son gets testy about that, and he loves to know what's going through everyone's minds all the time. Strawberrying is a hopeful over the next few days--I'd love to get a "messa berries" and have a shortcake binge and then make jam. When they're good, they're so. very. good--and it's so wonderful to have the jam come Winter. With such "to do" things in mind, I'll share my big to dos for this "next chunk of time" (July?):

1. pick berries and make jam.
2. pick material for the back of my quilt and finish it!
3. clean up my study--especially before we have visitors!
4. weed the church garden--about a morning's worth, maybe, to get it cut back and tidied up
5. wash the rest of the windows, in and out
6. BIG JOB: paint the upstairs hallway AND my study.

If that were done in July, I'd be. . . amazed and amazing! It is such a luxury to have the time to set those ideas out and then see if they come to fruition--I sure hope they do!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Decompressing. . .

My incredibly ornate and interconnected schedule has reached its simplifying point. . . I got to my friend's house at about 7 last night after a traffic-filled drive down. . . about seven hours of it. Whew! Since then, I have been breathing deeply and remembering what I LIKE to do.

The enormity of time, when contrasted to the exactly-scheduled life I (we?) often lead, is remarkable. I keep stretching--and, I must admit, looking at the clock on my computer. "Hey, it's only. . . " becomes a refrain. Maybe soon I'll stop looking! But it was surely a gift to wake up at 5:30 am today to a spectacular rain storm and NOT have the to-do list click into my head. I rolled over and slept until. . .seven thirty. Not much from a teen ager's perspective, but a welcome unwinding from mine.

Just lying around. That's a gift!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer Home, Some 'er Not. . .

I've been on vacation about 2.5 hours now. I just realized, as the sun came out on this cloudy day, that if I want to, I can hang out the sheets and then go take them down again in two hours, just because I want to.

This is called summer vacation.

This is also called decompression. It has been a busy last two months, and it will take a while for me to accomplish complete decompression, but I plan on letting it happen.

I also hope to do some writing that has been knocking around in my head lately. We shall see.

Meanwhile. Summer vacation. Mmmmmmmm.