Saturday, November 28, 2009

Nov. 28: Ahhhh!

It's nearly 5 pm on Saturday, and we are home. It's very windy out and the temperature is dropping as the rain we've had for a few days moves out. My legs are sore from my run--the second in two days!--brought on in place of a swim when the pool was closed due to a vomiting incident. I am clean but hungry, and am pondering what to eat for a snack and when to eat dinner.

Our trip to Gram's was nice, though the sleeping situations were not particularly comfortable (so good bye to my hope for lots of sleeping!) and we were VERY BUSY--my nephews are go go go boys so we went went went. Shopping, train viewing, shopping again, and a movie. . . wow! It was terrific to see everyone and to have an extra day that wasn't a travel day. My father in law seemed to enjoy our dinner out at Kennebec Tavern, and we ran into friends from church there (!!!) after our delicious meal. Elder and Younger were delightful: great with their granddad, great with their cousins, fun to ride in the car with. Our travel entertainment was my first present to the boys for the season: Terry Pratchett's first two Tiffany Aiken novels, Wee Free Men and Hat Full of Sky, on cd. We have 1.5 discs of WFM left to go!

I finished the latest Isabel Dalhousie, the name of which escapes me but which I enjoyed (yellow cover. . . picture of empty box on front. . . ), and then read part of the newest Maisie Dobbs, Among the Mad, and part of the second Louise Penny, A Fatal Grace. With the apartment full of 10+ people, reading wasn't always the easiest thing to accomplish. I did make one and a half pairs of mittens, though!

Well. I am hungry, tho have decided against a gin and tonic, having had two Mike's Hard Lemonades (one pomegranate, one "light". . . bleah. Go for the extra calories, I'd say) this vacation. Dinner early, perhaps. Then. . . more knitting and a read, maybe? First Sunday in Advent is tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nov. 24: Vacation AlREADY???

How nice to have a two day week! Am looking forward to a break that includes
--great family time
--lots of sleep
--generally relaxing.

Happiest of Thanksgivings to one and all. . . .

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nov. 22: Nice Times.

This weekend consisted of (among loads of laundry, church, and various other items):
taking in two high school shows: my high school's "Thoroughly Modern Millie" (growing season for them, but fun, impressive, charming) and Ellsworth's "The Wiz" (much more stage crafty with terrific costumes and effects, terrific music, many dear people in it) with Younger;
finishing The Bespoke Stocking of 2009;

and running a Turkey Trot 5k with Lori, a good friend from school, and younger, and 365 other folk! Our goal (all of ours) was to finish in under 30 mins, and we all did--Younger in 26.03, me in 26.57, and Lori in 27 plus a few seconds. . . and we all got tshirts, and were given a turkey each (Lori and our family, that is) by a colleague who won loads of them! Much, much fun.

Now home and looking forward to dinner and trying to whack up the ginger (in Bertie Wooster's immortal words) to do something more than slump here all evening.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nov. 14: Wishes

1. Top wish du jour: a clutter vanquisher, a la Mary Poppins. Let's just make all those piles of pencils, old papers, bills, computer stuff, clean laundry, dirty laundry, yarn, etc., vanish back where they belong. Better yet, let the trash end up in the trash, following my definition thereof.

(Feeling better already. Do I need three wishes?)

Wish #2. Insta-travel machine, so Julie and I can spend the day together, or even just have lunch.

Wish #3. If I had the other two, this might be superfluous, but I might enjoy "super kitchen speed" so I could
make a big batch of squash soup
make a batch of bread
peel, core, slice, and deal with all the apples sitting in the garage--pie? sauce? cake?
make some Katherine Hepburn's brownies
make a batch of ginger cookies
AND still do other stuff like going for a run, working on The Stocking, and picking out a new book. Oh, and laundry.

Finished The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly last night. It's read by Stephen Crossley, who was fabulous, and it's a fascinating story, but very sad. I think. I've been pondering it a lot. I also finished The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and that's a ponder-worthy book, too. I have to admit I skipped sections: it's all about the people for me, and whether it's chaos theory in Jurassic Park or the dream sequences in Holes, I will skip what doesn't directly involve the people. Therefore, considerable numbers of pages whirled by as Renee pondered happiness or Paloma discussed philosophy. . . . but it was an intriguing book and I'm glad I stuck with it! Last on my list is Inkspell, which I've been halfway through for weeks. Might finish the toe of the stocking and the rest of the book at the same time!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nov. 11: The Brighter Side of the Day Off

I had forgotten, after a summer not terribly conducive to gardening, how satisfying a good garden session can be.

And exhausting, as well.

Two items lurked in my mind: bulbs and "putting the garden to bed." Bulbs are ideal because they are a huge boon of color, life, and hope that appears when there seems to be little of any in our Maine landscape, and putting the garden to bed because I tend to be bad at that stage of the process, partly because I like to leave seedheads for the birds, and partly because I am a Memorial Day to Labor Day garden since I teach in a public school. A logical time to attend to both items is, of course, our day off--both because it's a treat, and because it's a nice climatory time to plant and trim. SO, this morning, I headed off to get potting soil to plant some hyacinths for forcing and some more bulbs to plant around the trees by the church. I found organic potting soil and, to my delight, bulbs for 50% off, so I got 42 assorted daffodil bulbs and 12 assorted hyacinths for about $12, and the work commenced.

Home first: I had thought of two gardens, one at home and one at church, but of course there are two at home, small ones but each full of tall reedy things to cut down before raking free of oak leaves. I did that, then corralled some small pots for bulb forcing and also planted a few new daffs (BH bought me 6 lovely new bulbs of good ol' King Alfred from a fundraiser at his school) and a few hyacinths in the newly cleaned beds. Lunch after an hour and a half of work tasted pretty good. . . . and then I rooted myself out of my chair and headed down to the church to plant bulbs there and clean the upper, and more visible, garden.

There the real work began! The soil around the trees was packed and hard, and the one trowel I'd carelessly brought nearly broke, so I ended up doing a lot of sod removal, invention, and plain ol' digging. Got the four trees done, planted, and fertilized, however, and I do hope that April next year is bright and pretty around those maples' ankles. Daffodils will come back, and it would be great to start a legacy of yellow (and white with orange trumpet and plain ol' white) happiness!

Cleaning up the front bed followed: I was already sweaty, and the cutting was satisfying and dirty too. The globe thistle from my beloved mil is on its third flowering this year, so I left its brave blue shoots there for the birds, but otherwise I cut and pulled and raked and neatened, then truly put everything to bed with some nasty old hay from last year as mulch. It looks kempt and restful, and since a lot of the hay already had worms breaking it down, I'm hoping that when we rake it up next Spring some of it will have decayed completely. I slipped a few new bulbs into gaps in that garden, too, and then staggered home to force myself to put away all the tools and then collapsed into bed for a rest/drowse/nap for an hour.

But how nice to have done all that! I keep thinking of those bulbs, and that hay, and those quiet gardens. "Put the garden to bed"--it's a great image, and I am so glad to have done it! Let it rain, let it snow, let it freeze. I'm ready!

Nov. 11: Veterans'/Armistice Day

I am glad, glad, glad to have this day off, but it's a holiday that makes me sad. It originally celebrated the Peace that ended that "War to End all Wars" but that really led up to the Next Big One (I had to rephrase this sentence since that opener is so unwieldy), but now has become yet another war-related commemoration. . . and while I do think that veterans, people who answered the call, deserve honor and support, far too often these holidays become jingoistic relivings of simplistic us-them world paradigms.

WOW. I am reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog, slowly and carefully, and I think Barbery's diction is rubbing off on me.

Nonetheless, I do think that somehow Memorial Day and now Veterans' Day and also the Fourth of July have become days to celebrate war. We don't wear black. We don't gather up the widows and orphaned children and go to VA hospitals and ask hard questions about why we keep cranking out so many veterans. We don't feel the grief and bewilderment that "man's inhumanity to man" should evoke in us. All too often, we wrap ourselves in the flag and we say thank you but we say, "And we'll be ready for the next Big One, too,"--instead of vowing that there should never be another one at all.

And why don't we have a Peace Day? Or even a day to remember all people we've lost, not just soldiers? I love the Mexican Day of the Dead--which could be our Memorial Day, but again: here comes war. We don't do well with grief as a country. We prefer rage and revenge.

But on this sun-soaked day, due to hit 50 in November! In Maine!, I plan to plant bulbs, deadhead gardens, do some mulching, tend a flu-ridden Elder (temperature of 101+, and that's WITH ibuprofen!), and maybe even take a nap. The cold (nothing more, but it's a doozy that has reached deep into my lungs to entwine its gunk with my bronchioles) is ebbing, and I'm hoping fresh air, a gentle run, and a nice snooze will help see it out the door.

And on this Veterans'/Armistice Day, I pray for support for all veterans, and I pray that my country and all countries will not act in ways that propagate war, but in "ways that make for peace."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Nov. 7: Blog Kvetch

Home from Younger's band festival--as usual, amazing to see what early rising, a bus ride, and 6 solid hours of practice can do. 150 middle school musicians and the same number of same aged singers made LOVELY music. Fun!

But have been reading some blogs as entertainment and I am starting to consider an entry test for potential bloggers: The Apostrophe Test. It's/ its, yours/your's (which doesn't exist), the there variations. . . I honestly think that people who write for the public (and isn't that what a blog really is? That's what makes it "not my teen journal", right?) need to learn and follow those rules.


Or maybe I just need some sleep. Like 10 hours of it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nov. 6: Ye Gods!

I do love November, and this has been a lovely one so far, complete with some pure-lighted bare treed sunny days (Lori and I ran my favorite Park trail on Wednesday on one such) and also a few sullen, raw, can't-wait-to-get-some-tea days. It's been plenty busy, however, and somehow I'm not prepared for the date above.

But what brings me to post (though I have several kicking around in my head) is that Cornflower cited a comment of mine! I'm SO excited. Reading blogs--the best ones, the ones I've still got bookmarked after my renewed struggle to keep technology from completely controlling my life--makes me feel part of a funny, friendly, smart, international, literary, creative community, and being cited by someone who IS REALLY one of those people. . . ooh! It's a lot for this lone blogger from Ellsworth, Maine!

During the early part of this week, I have been pondering the joys of single-mindedness, and realizing that being a teacher AND a mother, I don't get much of a chance to practice those joys. However, I am learning to treasure the half hour with a cup of tea in a quiet house and the comfy read before bed. I just finished Sense and Sensibility for the first time in a few years. . . Lacking single-mindedness lately, it took me quite awhile, but I did it tonight. And I am much enjoying John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things in the car--it's a fascinating and unsettling mix of kid and adult story.

Tomorrow I am chaperoning Younger's Honors Festival Band Trip. Since I'm not in charge, I can work through some correcting and possibly even work on The Stocking (which is giving me some trouble). However, I will be multi-tasking once again. Single-mindedness will come. . . someday!