Monday, November 8, 2010

Nov. 8: Thank you!

I was raised to write thank you notes. My memories of the last day of Christmas vacation or the evening before New Year's include a box of cards, an address book, and a list. Notes had to be specific, they had to be personal, and they had to be written--no phone calls, no "but she was here!", and, by extension, no email. My best friend and I developed a schtick about "Because we were not raised by wolves, we write thank you notes." My elder son is famous for the note he once wrote this friend in the orgy of post-Christmas thank you note writing: "Dear Aunt Julie: Thank you for the movies. Mom is making me write this. I think you should hate her." That gem is still on her refrigerator--note the personalization and the fact that it's three lines long!

I consider myself a student of culture, and I accept that we are different. I believe in freedom of choice, I belong to the UCC, I reject the English only movement in the US, and, although that aforementioned son and his brother might roll their eyes when I say it, I am generally a pretty open minded person. However, I have come to realize that one cultural trend I resolutely mourn is the passing of the tradition of thank you notes. Not only do I mourn it, but I have to admit that I will think a little bit worse of you if you should fail to send me one when you should. (I know. I'm cringing even as I type that line. the word "should"? Not my favorite. But I'm trying to be honest here, and that's the truth!) I have participated in a great "Seven Days of Specialness" Swap through a blog that shall remain nameless. My first swap partner faded away, and I ended up swapping with the blogger herself, which was a pleasure. Her presents were thoughtful, inventive, fun, useful and lovely--as, I must say, were mine. Since we had each other's mailing addresses, and since one of presents to each other had been notecards, I wrote a detailed and enthusiastic thank you note to her at the conclusion of the swap. Then I waited for hers--which never ever came. No email, even, saying which bits she liked the best and how nice the dish towel was and that the tea was nice. Nothing. Even now, a year later, I feel a little bitter when I visit that blog. Clearly, some nice people were raised by wolves!

And many of my students were raised by wolves, too, which makes me sad, as it foretells a society in which we say thank you less and less (See? I get to be rigid and depressing. This is a great topic!). Eight recommendations sent to different schools on time? Regular after-school help sessions, progress emails, and above-and-beyond effort and encouragement? No word. The student may say thank you, the parents may spread my name around as a caring teacher, but no note, nothing I can tuck away to revisit after a day when I'm rethinking my career choice. No little flare of happiness that my effort's been acknowledged. That's not to say that I haven't gotten the occasional knock-my-socks-off thank you: a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from a family, two gift certificates to a book store when I taught two children in the same family, a huge bag of fresh garden produce. But the regular, "thank you so much for helping me out" note--it's an endangered species, and that, I join my ancestresses in thinking, is a shame.

Readers will be relieved to hear that I don't follow the "don't start with the word 'Thank you' rule," I'm not fussy about paper quality, and I care if you mail it, put it on my desk, or hand it to me personally. All I like to see, hope to see, and, clearly, need to see, is that other people are acknowledging that my actions have an impact on their lives. I know I feel a lift when I write a thank you note, especially for something the donor might not realize made an impact. My colleague who helped organize a terrific field trip to a Shakespeare workshop with twelve wonderful students? She's getting one on this rainy November morning. So is the bus driver who schlepped us all over the rain-drenched town, never complaining once. And my guess is that those little three sentence wonders will lighten their mornings, even just a little. So although the current response to spoken thanks is now "No problem," take ten minutes to acknowledge your gratitude for something someone has done for you. You'll be amazed how the wolves of anonymity and apathy will retreat, and the grandmothers of love and acknowledgment will smile, warming you with their approval.

Yeah. a little rough, but I have some thank yous to write. . . :>)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nov. 2: Advisory

I'm on my third rotation as an advisor. At Mdihs, we get a class of ninth graders and stay with them through till graduation, with varying degrees of closeness and friendship. My first two groups featured a cast of characters that changed regularly, struggled a good bit, dropped out (in some cases), made me very proud, and, in other cases, drove me demented. We met about once a month for about 40 minutes, and did occasional projects and activities together. We "got on," as the Brits say.

This year MDI has a new format, so I am seeing my 13 sophomore advisees every day of the week: 10 mins most days, and 30 mins. on Fridays. We chat, we do puzzles, we check in, we lie in exhausted piles around the room--we've also participated in Spirit week, wearing different themed costumes each day; worked on really learning the school song; enjoyed two fire drills; done a few on-line activities, some of which we hated and others of which were okay, and of course we also partook in the PSATs. I liked this group last year, when we were only 11, a little quieter, smaller, and more insecure. We've gained two new members of the group, and added height, age, and attitude. What's most amazing, however, is how differently we interact now that we see each other daily. I know that N. and F. will get sucked into their laptops if I'm not proactive about it; I know that L., E., and A. have a bad habit of gossiping and need to be reminded to "use their powers for good, not evil," and I know that I can be as firm as I want with E. so long as I keep my voice cheerful and upbeat. In addition, I've seen K. and K. fit seamlessly into our group, Z. survive a tough summer, and A. weather a nastily broken ankle, a week out, a wheelchair, and, finally crutches.

On the return side, I just had a long meeting to try to get one advisee back on a healthy, productive track. During that meeting, I was able to give reasons for hope and concern on the basis of daily observations and conversations. After it ended, I just happened to run into another advisee looking blue in the hallway, and pretty quickly found out he was feeling overwhelmed and nervous about his school work. He's prone to depression, I remembered, and though I had to run out for an appointment, I was able to give him a little love, make a to-do list, hand him a granola bar, and promise that we'd touch base in advisory tomorrow. The feeling of interconnectedness (which sometimes, yes, masquerades as exhaustion and over-responsibility) was palpable and very strong: I know these kids. I've only had three of them in class, and only this year, but I feel more and more that I know them, in the words of the CES document that inspired our first lurching advisory steps, "deeply and well." It's hard work, but it's good work, because it enriches both my teaching life in the school and their growing lives in it as well. These connections are why I went into teaching. Go advisory!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Nov. 1: Playing Hooky

"Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work."

Robert Frost got it so right with that scrap from "Out, Out--" that these lines echoed in my head as I swam laps Sunday morning. I usually swim laps Sunday morning, but this time I was 3 hours later than usual, and had not been and had no plans to go to church. Most of my family and I were indulging in a Sunday of playing hooky.

This fall has been stunningly busy for us. My husband and I are both teachers, he in an elementary school and I at a high school, and both of us have a commute of about an hour round trip (less once the tourists and leaf peepers leave!). I have just gone back to full time teaching this year, and am also the head of my department. Andy's on the negotiations team. We have two children who attend the local high school, a blessed 5 minute walk from our house. Lyle is a senior, Nate is a freshman. Cross country season just ended, Y swimming is starting, Nate celebrated high school by joining every activity known to human kind: not just cross country, but also show choir, jazz band, pep band, the fall musical, and, on Wednesday afternoons, he now has a paper route. Oh, and we have an exchange student from Denmark this year. He's a senior too, a day older than Lyle, and he decided to play football this fall.

As a whole, our family has felt that we've kept our obligations thinned down: work, school, and church: no travel soccer, no weekends at the skiing condo, no Rotary club, no scouts. However, somehow Y swimming crept in there, in addition to my position as Library trustee for our town and a second on the Mission Board in our church. This fall we were in full action mode: AFS activities with Silas, various meets and games to watch or get kids to, parent meetings as teachers and as parents, committee meetings as planned, and then all the inescapable facts of family life: food shopping. Laundry. Family dinner as much as humanly (humanely?) possible. Occasional rounds of UNO or Blokus. Andy's 50th birthday party. A hike.

In this rich but laden calendar, the idea of playing hooky presents enormous grace. I've learned, after 24 years as a teacher, that a sick day isn't really a gift, as it comes with "sub plans" stamped all over it. That leaves the weekend as our backout option, and, this past weekend, Sunday was the chance. Amazingly, none of us had nursery duty or ushering; I didn't have any announcements to make or activities to run; none of the kids was involved in a project he didn't want to miss. As I turned the idea over in my mind, it began to assume the glow of a truly inspired chance, and when we all reassembled in the kitchen at 10 pm after a day of car appts at seven am (Brewer), Lyle's last State meet at Belfast (11 am), Silas's last football game in Lamoine (1 pm), Nate's work call (9 - 3), Lyle's work at the YMCA Haunted Hayride (4 - 9), I told the kids we were skipping church--and that was clearly a good idea.

Not that we did much with our extra time. I got up about the same time I would if I were on my usual schedule of swimming before church, but I made a coffee cake adn then lounged in my pjs with the cats and coffee for a while. I did some banking online, wrote a few letters (remember those?), called my brother, organized some catalog returns, and then swam hard, three hours later than usual. I food shopped at just about the usual time, and it snowed. Nate's goal was to stay in his pjs all day, and he almost made it! Lyle lounged and then went to his usual shift at the pool. Silas nursed a sore ankle from the game and slept in. The day, however, even with all its ordinariness, was set apart, special, because we had time to relax in it. We had given ourselves the gift of space to breathe, to lounge, to celebrate. For one morning in one week, we'd stepped off our chosen and beloved treadmill to revel in more time. What a gift to be "saved from work."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oct. 31: WAHOO!

Well, yesterday I said to Andy, "This is the busiest we'll ever be." And, honestly, I think that's right. Lyle and Silas as seniors and athletes, A and me as full time teachers, me as dep't head, library chair, and mission board member at church, Nate involved in xc and every other possible activity, A visiting his dad every other weekend, A turning 50 with the concomitant celebrations. . . . all good, all chosen, all rich and full and. . . WOW~

So yesterday featured 7 am long-overdue car maintenance appts in Brewer for both Toyotas, then L's final State xc meet (probably final xc meet), and Silas's last football AND a work call for Nate and work at a Y fundraiser haunted hayride for Lyle. AND we did it--but it was a "leave the house at 6;30, return for 15 mins at 1:30, and then stagger back in at 4 pm" kind of Saturday. So, today the boys and I are skipping church, A is going to wave the family flag, and I will swim at a leisurely 10:30 ish time, food shop thereafter, and the afternoon will unfold into trick-or-treating with no particular fuss at our house.

Whew! And tomorrow is November, which starts with a busy week (tho I voted on Friday!) and end of marking period 1/2 day on Friday; the second week features ARMISTICE day, so a three day week, a day off, and a Friday; one five day week, and then finishes (nearly) with a two day week before T'giving. Yay! And I *do* love November.

Good stuff. Rich. Just nice to kick back once in a while. Happy November, soon!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Oct. 1: Friday Night. Pouring Rain. Pre-Thai Food.

I am very happy, all of a sudden! Silas and Lyle have gone to the Mex and a movie with Lyle's girlfriend, Holly (this is new this week, so I am practicing)--tho I hae me doots given a few awkward pauses when she came, but oh well. We are not going away anywhere this weekend, tho S. has a Saturday "thing" with AFS on the island and we're having two AFS boys from Egypt stay here on Sat. night. I have to take Zeus to get his staples out at the vet tomorrow (and neither of us is psyched about that, let me tell YOU!), Gram is bringing up our side of beef, and I have to make brownies for the AFS dinner and locally sourced bread for communion . . . . I sort of want to see both boys run in Belfast, but I. Need. Some. Time. Home.

But it's October 1st! And that makes me happy and excited, for some reason. I *do* love the start of months!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19: Loveliest Day of the Summer. . . Maybe. . .

Tho that's like deciding on the cutest puppy! It has been a spectacular summer. We do finally need rain--the rest of Maine has needed it for a while, but we had heavy rains every three days or so which kept us green--but it's been quite wonderful for quite a while.

And Silas is here and things are going quite well. It seems longer than a week--not in a bad way, just in that it seems like at least a month. He's talking more, which is great, and eating a bit more (which is a relief to my "feed 'em up" Mom mind) and has met a bunch of the boys' friends. Our world seems much bigger now with him in it, which is terrific.

Today I did school work on the back deck for about two hours, and felt it was the best of all possible worlds: productivity coupled with inordinate beauty. . . WOW. Now, school work DONE for today, I am heading toward iced tea, chips, and book, also in inordinate beauty. What have I done to deserve this??????????????

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August 15: After the Stork!

Well, Silas is here, and we're settling in. I can already tell that I am going to have to learn to "sit on my hands," and just let things unfold, since 17 year old boys don't need to be directed, overseen, involved, checked in with, and generally fussed at every. minute. of. the. day, even when their host mamas just want to be sure they're okay. Thank God I can inflict that kind of attention on my own children instead. . .

So. Here we go on our new adventure. Once again, time is the secret. Gosh, I hate that kind of thing!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 11: Yesssssssss!

The redecoration is mostly finished. We have pictures to hang, a few lamp decisions to make, and a chair to shellac (I *like* me a shiny finish!), but the big muscle--work all day--sweat dripping off your nose--it's 8 pm and I think I'll eat dinner stuff is DONE. Andy and Nate got the mattress and box spring yesterday; Lyle, Nate and I set up the den yesterday afternoon (Lyle and Nate both said, "It looks like a study!"--I think they mean old British Safari Club, as much in it is worn, warm, or wood!), and we're all happy with the new layout. A picture will follow, once I take one: I sat down at 9:20 last night IN said finished den, and then the department came over at 8 am till 1 for an intense and useful session unpacking standards (yeah, I know. But it makes sense to us teacher types, and we even had fun). . . so I am tired, kicking back, and relishing the empty house.

My beloved Corolla will be done at the body shop post-collision late afternoon, so we are slowly getting back to normal--and then to our new normal on Saturday, and then ANOTHER new normal on Monday afternoon, when I'll have two senior sons and one freshman son, all doing preseason! Bring it on--but right now I think I'm taking a nap!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10: Snagging. . . and the like

Click on that picture to see the newest denizen of our front porch: yes, a HUGE spherical spider, and, to add to the whole horror movie effect, she's white and orange. EWWWWWWW! I am hoping that someone will decide to relocate her humanely and quickly, but I don't think that someone will be me, as I'd have to get too close to her. She's outside, so killing isn't the ethical thing, but, really---yuk.

On the brighter side, we're down to the details. I ran into the phrase "snagging list" in a novel on home reconstruction, and it means all the final things that need to be done to be truly DONE. Some stuff--buying a new mattress and box spring, for example--is a tad larger than just snagging, but we have plenty o' pictures to hang, decorating decisions to make, the final two bits of baseboard that we overlooked before to denail, fill, paint and replace. . .etc. I have been working full out for several days, and Andy has too. The boys have been on and off for the past few, but when we fall into bed tonight. . . I'm hoping we'll be DONE. Well, maybe "done and with a snagging list." Do those EVER get completed????

Sunday, August 8, 2010

August 8: Summer of Boys

It's Sunday morning; in less than a week we'll have picked up the new member of our family, our exchange student Silas. Partially as a result, we've been working very hard on some house projects lately, and the odd side effect of that focus has been some wonderful family times.

My 'family of origin' was light on money and heavy on projects which were, therefore, fueled by our own muscle power and time. We all joke now about how we complained and whined and moaned at the time but now romanticize that life--stacking wood, shoveling, weeding the garden, even getting in hay and cleaning chicken pens. I've noticed the same pattern in my current family's life: the boys will moan and complain when we pick a day to rake leaves or put in screens, but then they'll say, "Remember how we always used to. . . " and the memory is whine-free.

So when Andy and I planned to refloor the den and paint my study ivory instead of pink for Silas's sojourn, I expected the same pattern. Imagine my shock when

it didn't happen.

The boys have been fun! They have volunteered to join in and work! They have moved from one project to the next without having to be rooted out of the corners where they might hide. . . I even heard Lyle telling a friend that he was sorry he couldn't make it to the friend's party last night because "I don't have a ride"--which he did, in fact.

I attribute a huge amount of their enthusiasm to the intense effect of homedecoration on a run down room, but also to the addition of a ROPE SWING to our front yard. After working for a bit, they'll slide out to the front and swing for awhile, Lyle boosting Nate onto the seat, or Nate pushing Lyle. There have been a few bumps and bruises, and there's certainly been fine-tuning of the swing itself, but overall, the swing has added serenity and fun to our work for this summer. Paint a bit--swing. Clear moldy cardboard out of the cellar--swing. Do a good deal of family work that needs to get done--swing--then eat a terrific dinner of hot potato salad and free range tbone steaks on the deck and talk about what we want to do when Silas comes--swing some more--then collapse into bed. Great memories, minus the whining. Amazing.

Friday, July 30, 2010

7/30: Friday!

Well it's a lovely cool morning and Andy and I are pausing before (I hOPE!) leaping into a day of great productivity. With Silas arriving in just about 16 days, we have a lot of house issues to square away, to say nothing of general stuff we just want to do. Yesterday we got ten boxes of laminate flooring at Marden's, and soon Lyle and Andy are going to pull up the nasty carpet in the den. . . meanwhile, I am about one file drawer and several armloads away from having the whole den cleaned out and ready to be painted, emptied of the futon, reloaded with the bed (with a possible new mattress), and just plain readied for the arrival of a 17 year old boy for the year!


And MOm comes up tonight and Sweeney Todd launches. Last night A and I went to see a "showcase," which was a nice selection of various scenes from famous works the kids had worked on--Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Importance of Being Ernest. . . . Much fun to see them all, and it really made me feel that they were doing "theater camp" and not just "putting on a play." THEN we got ICE CREAM. :)

Coffee time!

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 16: Happy Birthday, Nate!

And he's fourteen! WOW!

Today will involve: making a midday b'day celebration snack for the gang at Grand Camp
--delivering said snack
--an hour of tidying work in the Silas zone
--a hard swim workout (2000 meters here we come!)
--German Choc. Cake icing
--some school/library phone calls
--work on Kole's bootie #2.

Rock on.

Happy b'day to my sweet, funny, smart, quirky, tender-hearted Nateus Nuteus.

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12: Onwards!

GREAT rain all day yesterday, and I got unwhiny, and the boys and I had a nice afternoon/evening and Andy did come home from B'wick and. . . it was a nice day. Today is hot, still, and sunny.

--laundry out
--finish A's jams, while listening to Vol. 3 of Great Expectations (am loving that book!)
--possibly finish A's socks
--work on the great Closet Consolidation
--bike ride and/or swim (hip is better, but running is definitely not good for it right now)
--stop by the Farmer's Market for vegs for pasta salad
--possible Library stop for more fluff (tho I keep finding books to read in the study. . . )


Sunday, July 11, 2010

July 11: A Little Whining

It's raining, and that's GREAT. In fact, I wish it would rain a little harder for the whole afternoon. We need it, and since Nate and I have to work on Andy's belated Dad's Day jammies, it's a perfect setting for our afternoon plans. I even swam this morning so I am off the hook for exercise (I think I've inflamed my left hip bursa, so I think I'll skip running for a bit. Am trying to be good with ibu and icing. Might try for a hike or two this week instead, and lotsa swimming). BUT

everything in the house is sticky due to the humidity! There is NOT a breath of wind, and we need the lights on. This always bothers me. Bleah.

So I plan to eat some lunch, read my Katie Fforde book (pure fluff), and then sew. Probably with some loud music on to get me unwhiny.

And the rain is nice.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

July 7: Action!

Hot but lovely. Even a breeze. Here's what I have done today:
--made Lyle's b'day cake layers.
--finished reading Volume II of Great Expectations. That's 16 days early, thank you very much!
--set up the second blog over Volume II of GE for my students.
--finished Julie's letter.
--run the dishwasher.
--made iced tea.
--started cleaning out my closet so I can move out of the study for Silas to move in.
--cleaned out my wallet.
--swum across the river with Andy.
--gone driving around the neighborhood with Lyle, practicing his shifting.

I plan to also
--run with Nate (then probably swim with him too)
--wrap L's presents
--food shop/go to the bank and the libe with the boys
--finish the closet (at least the clothes hanging part, maybe not the piles of stuff part).

WHOOSH! Take THAT, July 7!!!!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 30: Last Day of the first month of vacation!

And it's a lovely one! The roofing guys are here to start Big Project #1, the second part of reshingling the roof, and I need to send a check to the guy who's going to do our front walkway with paving stones. . . things are moving! A is feeling under the weather, possibly with a flu? thing I had badly (and thought was food poisoning) when I ate the leftovers from our good Green Tea food. I was miserable Sunday afternoon/evening/night and then slept most of Monday, when it rained hard most of the morning. I curled up on the futon with the cats. . . ahhh. Not a bad way to be when you're under the weather!

So now I hope to get some stuff done! Have at it!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

June 26: WOW!

I am just barely staying awake on this first real vacation Saturday of the summer. Have been reading up on AFS issues, etc, and am feeling a tad queasy about what we're taking on, but having read Denmark's profile, I also feel like it might be a good match.

It's that still greyness outside that might herald a t'storm, and I think I'll go up stairs for a read or a nap (or both?) before Nate and I order takeout from Green Tea for dinner!

Summer: I love it!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

May 30: Sunday

Skipping church today. . .hoping the sun will come out, but mostly seizing a different way to feel the weekend. I also don't like the war/church interface. We tend not to do that well yet.

So: soon to write instructional grants, due on Tuesday, but spent some time messing around outside (it's still very dry so I watered). Found six lovely ripe strawberries in my front garden. . . yum! Am hoping the chill grey will fade as it seems to be doing and we'll have the sunny day we've been promised. If we can't have RAIN, I'd like SUN!

Gobbled down The Double Comfort Safari Club yesterday. . . fun. I will reread parts of it, but overall Mma Ramotswe does not fail to please.

AND found out we got our exchange student for next year--exciting!

Friday, May 28, 2010

May 28: FRIDAY of Memorial Day Weekend!

I copied THIS from Letters from a Hill Farm's blog. . . and SHE said, I saw this at Cornflower's blog this morning and here are her words about where it came from.

Here's a meme from Bookish NYC via Life must be filled up; do take it to your own blog or answer the questions in the comments on this post if you wish.

Do you snack while reading?
Sure, but not always. I'll come in from work and plop down with my snack and a drink (see below) but it doesn't have to be that way.

What is your favourite drink while reading?
Winter/Fall/Spring: hot tea; summer: iced tea of our family recipe.

Do you tend to mark your books while you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
If I'm reading for school, I mark a LOT. Otherwise, usually not, unless there are editing errors. THOSE I mark, even in library books. For shame, sloppy editors!

How do you keep your place? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book open flat?
I try to bookmark. I rarely dogear unless the book is TERRIBLE, and I don't usually smash them flat.

Fiction, non-fiction or both?
Mostly fiction but will read non-f. with pleasure too.

Do you tend to read to the end of a chapter or can you stop anywhere?
Depends. I like to read to ends of chapters, but sometimes when I realize I am falling asleeeeeeep while trying to get to the end, I'll just stop.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?
Nope, tho my best friend and I use that as hyperbole. I just stop and return or donate it. HA!

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
Not usually. Honestly, I don't usually come across words I don't know. . . . as I think about it. Hmmm.

What are you currently reading?
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. I like it a lot, though it's a weird, very specific topic and very different from her others (which makes me a little sad, as I liked those!)

What is the last book you bought?
Fiction: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. In hardcover. Totally worth it.
Knitting: Weekend Knitting, for less than my $10 gift cert. Ha!

Do you have a favourite time/place to read?
Anytime. I was shocked to realize how little I'd been reading for long stretches, as reading was my opium as a kid. But I like anywhere/anytime nowadays!

Do you prefer series books or stand-alones?
Both, unless the author gets annoyingly predictable or zanily tries to keep our attention.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
For people in bad places but with a sense of humor: Anne Lamott
For people who have patience: Ladies' No 1 Detective Agency
For teens and adults who are witty and funny: Terry Pratchett.
I could go on!

How do you organise your books?
No way at all. Not enough bookshelves in this house so it's usually a scramble. I do like a tempting pile, so often I pile the "to be read" books in my study and then tell myself, "No more new ones till this pile is gone!"--but it never works!

Barbara's additional question: background noise or silence?
Am a teacher of high school; come from a big family; now have a lively, active family. . . . I read however it comes! Often knit while I do if the book will stay open!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 18, 2010: WOW!

Much time has gone by, but much good/fun/challenging/rewarding stuff has happened. Or unfolded. Or been accomplished. Right now there are several things I feel like sharing:

•went to a great tech workshop after school, geared for English teachers. It was great fun, time shot by, and we all (three of us!) got great ideas. AND there was pizza!

•thanks to a student, I have put "omnidazzle" on my cursor so I sprinkle golden pixie dust as I move around and do my work. I love it inordinately and geekily.

•have been knitting quite a bit on the sweater that I want to make and that will fit BH, Elder, or me, so that's good, but it's taking TIME so am

•planning the next pair of socks. It's been a while!

In the meantime, May is jetting by. It's been a lovely month, and many lovely things have happened in it. This weekend, Elder goes to an art enrichment weekend in Deer Isle, and Younger, BH and I go to Grandaddy's 80th and then Younger's confirmation. Yay!

For now................ I'm beat! G'night, maybe, even!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

May 8: Mini-Triathlon #2!

I am wearing a fleece, long sleeved tee, wool socks, and jeans, and curled in my comfy chair, complete with mohair throw. Outside, it is cold (45) and raining steadily. I have had a hot shower, a nap, and a lovely lunch at the Riverside, complete with a chocolate milkshake. All these details crown the fact that I have completed the Downeast Family YMCA's "Dare to Try" Mini-triathlon for the second time, and I am so pleased with myself that I could just sing (more active signs will have to wait till Sunday or even Monday)!

It was not a lovely day, and what to wear if it was going to pour steadily was a big question, but many things turned out fine. I wore my running tights and my windbreaker after the swim, then shed the 'breaker for the run, and apart from a slight tendency for the tights to slide down during the run, all was well. My feet got VERY cold--wool peds next year--but otherwise I felt a lot better than I did last year. I have little idea of what my time was because I forgot to check, and I don't. even. really. care: I am just delighted that I did it, that I finished, that I felt so good. The only bummer was that I was moved to the third heat due to a very slow swimmer in my assigned lane. It made total sense to move me, but I battled the feeling of being THE LAST ONE. I ended up not being, and, of course, timewise I was far from the last, but still. Maturity lesson, I guess!

Well. That is a huge hurdle at the end of two weeks of lots of hurdles, including a budget meeting for the library which went very poorly AND the massive scoring of honors work which we do every year and which I'm in charge of as dept. head this year. I just feel happy and relieved--yay!

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23: Friday of Vacation Week

It's a grey cold day and I'm having a lazy one of it, I guess. . . plan to spring into some work (bill paying, updating the busy, busy calendar for April/May, etc) but I didn't sleep well last night (next time: a DECAF iced coffee after Younger's ortho at 4:30!) and am tired now, so I am on the futon in the study, hoping for a nap.

The Boston trip was good/fun/packed/cheerful/pleasant/full of family and friends. . . . Besides seeing BH's aunt and uncle and a family friend, Younger and I had a lovely time in Boston while Elder and BH visited his second school. We went to the Aquarium and then knocked around downtown a bit, miraculously finding all the spots we needed to find easily and quickly. The weather was stunning, and we simply had a lovely time. Two pics:

Us on the wharf outside the Aquarium. . . and

a very avant-garde pic I managed with my terrible camera. There were tons of people in the Aquarium, but it was fun to be there with a mellow companion, so the stress didn't get to us.

On the homefront, Younger and I finished a deep cleaning of his room and, as a result/reward, he now has a new mattress and boxspring to replace the one I slept on in my grandmother's guest room. . . . which was old THEN! I think he'll sleep well. The room is certainly stunning!

Okay. Nap time, starting with a little more Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, which I am loving and reading very, very slowly to make it last!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17: The Saturday of Vacation

Well, it's finally here! The week was busy but good, with my 9/10 English class being especially, surprisingly, focused yesterday, which was a delight! I wound down the week by turning in the schedule for next year (my first time to plan it as dept. head), getting the nasturtium seeds for Earth Day Sunday next week at church, and then a really nice knitting group after school. To top it off, we had BH-made pizza as we watched "Mamma Mia!" (fun) and then Younger and I cleaned under his bed, step one of the Total Room Cleaning we have planned for this week. Yikes!

Sunday we leave for Boston: it will be great to see some of BH's family, and (gulp) to visit some colleges with Elder. We're hoping to get back on Tuesday night. . . best case, we'll have a nice family time, enjoy a change of venue to do some fun Boston stuff, and I'll get a chance to do some knitting en route. Not-so-best-case, we get cranky because we spend too much time rushing around and being crammed into our Toyota. . . and I forget something integral and can't knit! Well, good thing I'm an optimist.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand BH just walked into the den and announced, "It's snowing!" Which it is. Who says a good vacation has to be a warm one?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 11, Sunday Before Vacation!

Well, we have one week looming between us and the week that seemed like it would never come. Maybe it won't--but compared to the gulf that has stretched between our tired selves and it, these five days with not too many commitments in them seem quite manageable. So.

For me, this weekend was a big sigh of relief after a week containing a lot, lot, lot of commitments: parent meetings, Younger's show choir night, eye doctor's appointments, meetings to discuss next year's class assignments, on and on. Last of all, I spent Friday on a bus with 13 other colleagues going to a conference in Portland on differentiation. While the conference was a blend of usefulness and glibness, the whole day was terrific. The bus ride allowed a lot of visiting/school talk/processing/non-school talk and two meals which left us all feeling charged up and energized despite a loooooong day (on bus at 5:30 am; off bus at 8:40 pm). It was a huge relief to get out of the classroom for even one day. What a great day!

Yesterday I had a chunk of solo time at home which was a pleasure, even as I hustled around doing laundry and picking up. As a result, the house looks neater and calmer than it often does on a Sunday afternoon, and I feel less stressed--so much less stressed, in fact, that I think I might just take a napppppppppppppppppp!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

April 3: Wow! Time Flies like an arrow. . .

. . . but fruit flies like a banana!!!!

Just realized I should've used that old joke while studying figurative language with my 9th graders. . . . Oh well. Next batch.

It's Easter Saturday, BH has gone to help empty his father's house, under contract at last!, and I have much much much to do. However, I am bolstered in my determination that if volunteering to make the Easter breakfast for church is my gift, it needs to be done with pleasure and grace, not frenzy and rush. So.

1. Made six Stollen yesterday after school. Discovered that yes, they are still delectable even when one forgets to add the eggs. Completely. All four eggs. Until the first batch is in the oven and the second batch is formed and rising. Hmmm. Who knew?

2. Have made a good clear to do list for the boys, who will be asked only to do a small help-out since the breakfast (see above) is my idea. Mostly their to dos will make a nicer homecoming for BH, who is very stressed, and will get their weekend chores done before tomorrow, Easter.

3. Have decided on some simplified foods, but mostly have decided to focus on the almost-miraculous (and we're in the season of miracles, now, anyway, natural and religious, so let's call it miraculous, shall we?) way that things seem to get done every year for this event, whether I freak out or not. Am I learning? Anne Lamott talks about how her behavior can make Jesus want to drink gin out of the cat dish; I feel like my obtuseness makes Jesus want to kick me in the head to make his point!

4. Am hoping for a nap, and am watching the fog clear slowly. Forecast is for a most unMainelike Easter: sunny and 70's. !!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 23: Looky! Looky!

(Do kids say that anymore? We used to, all the time!)

BUT. . . here we go. . . .

1. Younger's triumphant hat for his show choir pianist's first baby, due in June:

I am delighted to report that the recipient, Colin, was ecstatically impressed and a wonderful gift-getter. So nice when that happens!

2. Amaryllis of wonder. I bought two and gave one to my friend Marie, and it exploded into beautiful blossoms of white and pink, three stalks' worth, each with five blooms. Mine, scarlet, is on its third stalk as well, this one with four blossoms (the other two had two gorgeous trumpets each). Easily worth the $12.95 for each! What show-stoppers!

3. And, finally, I finished the Charybdis socks from the Glass of Fashion website for my sister-in-law!! One (poor) picture, featuring Younger's feet. . .

Not crazy about the pooling of color in the yarn, but it is a wonderful pattern and I hope to make it again! Hope she likes 'em!

It's raining steadily and has done all day. Reading for a bit now. Yay, Tuesday!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Later That Same Day. . .

. . . Nice Monday mostly over, dishes washed, kettle on the boil, congo bars waiting for tea, rain falling on the skylight.


March 22: Happy B'day to Ann!

It's a grey, chilly day here, but still no rain! We are really hoping for it, as we haven't had any for a long time. I think it's all pooled in CT, where there's been major flooding, etc. We don't need all that, but certainly a day/night of steady precip. would be good, rejoicing the souls of the buds and the bulbs and the trees!

Let's see: it's Monday am, 6 am to be precise, so my post is not the usual "What I hope to do this weekend" variety. We did have a nice weekend: the high school had no classes on Friday, the inservice day I helped to plan was a huge success and a lot of fun, Younger and I headed off to Bangor for a fun trip to Target so I could see their Liberty line (clothes, not so good; housewares, okay: I got some notepaper!), and I watched "Funny Face": hello, dumb movie!!! I am all for suspending disbelief, but Astaire looked like a child molester, Hepburn couldn't sing, and what I think you'd call "the production values" AND the plot were really weak. BUT. . . I worked on Ellyn's second sock and am nearly nearly done. Yay!

The big news is that Younger's jazz band got SECOND in the State competition--sort of out of the blue! I am so happy for him and his director: it's been an up and down year, and it's rare to have things come together so successfully at the end. . . Younger was sportin' a pair of wingtips we happened (okay, Eagle-Eye-for-Bargains *I*) spotted in the clearance bin, and he loves them, so maybe that mojo helped. But it was great.

And I went out to see a band downtown (!!). . . BH was too tired so I was sans partner and didn't get to dance as much as I wanted to, but it was fun to be there and how different is that for me? I have extracted a sort-of promise from BH to go the next time they're playing, and then we'll be up and at 'em!

So my goal for this week, schoolwise, is to keep my challenging 9/10 class in focus. Partly, I'm praying about it (which makes me laugh because it would freak out the kids to know that, but I think Jesus is ALL ABOUT kids like this. . . which is part of what makes the whole thing so hard, because I can't just dismiss them!) and partly I am just trying to step back and see what the kids need. In a nonjudgemental kind of way. I hope.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mar. 12: Yessss!

Thirteen hours at school yesterday, but today


a nice, mellow, "let's be friends" but fairly productive Friday schoolwise,

a good car clean,

one load of laundry done and hung out already, and

great anticipation of getting the "new" Toyota--2003! but with sunroof, incredibly low miles, and tape deck AND cd!--tomorrow!

Now, on the couch with chips, a Mike's, and lots of blogs to catch up on. Nice!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 10: In Praise of Terry Pratchett

Because, even on a crap day when I ponder the future of our civilization because kids seem so resistant to learning or doing anything remotely demanding even breathing practically,

when I wonder if it's ME and I'm just an evil/demanding/unrealistic/too strict/too old fashioned/too closeminded/too [you fill in the blanks] old monster who should stop harming the youth of America,

when I drive home battling to turn off the drumbeat of "I must" "I should" "I have to" and "I should have" in my mind,

he can still make me laugh out loud at lines like "he was what you would get if you shaved a bear" and other gems, and he never seems to forget the value of human beings, even when they are stinky, stubborn, short-sighted, and difficult.

Both of these are things I needed to do or be reminded of today, and the wonderful Stephen Briggs recording of Going Postal that is gracing me with its company these days did the trick.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March 7: Is it HERE?

I know we are still in for some nasty days and grueling weather, but my! We've had a stretch of three days of downright lovely. Not a weekend for the LOTR trilogy at all: my run yesterday featured my running tights and a long sleeved tshirt and a LOT of sweat--what a sign of Spring! BH and I went for a nice walk along the Bangor waterfront after a nice lunch while we waited for the 60,000 check on his car, and I even hung out more laundry! Life is good!

I hope to reappear shortly with some FO pictures. . . MUCH progress has been being made (!) on various odds and ends. Stay tuned, and enjoy the weather!

Ah, here they are.

The big brown and orange socks were finished this morning and seized by Younger with cries of joy. Since he is VERY fussy about his feet, I considered and discarded the idea of giving them to him for C'mas (he likes orange and funky stuff, as you can tell by his pj pant legs!), so am delighted he likes them! The booties were resurrected, as I had run out of yarn to finish the second one and make the ties. With both Elder and BH asking for booties for various causes, I got creative and did a Frankenstein type yarn transfusion, making one shorter and lengthening the other, and then dug up some yarn that sort of matched for the ties. One pair down, one more to go! But nice to have two FO's, esp as both are patterns I love. Nothing like that Yankee Knitter sock pattern or that great bootie. . . Yay!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mar. 2: Soft and Grey

Got up this morning to walk Zeus, and although it is still overcast, it was definitely 1. light enough to see, and 2. not bitter. (That's a very Maine thing to praise, but still!). It was also not raining or snowing, a weather trend that has been the rule for the past week plus. So all in all, it felt like a very verge-of-Spring type of day--for some reason, it felt like a very English Spring day, though all the Brits I know are watching bulbs come up, while our ground is rock hard still. However, I would guess that while people are canceling snowshoe races left right and center, many maple syrup makers are dusting off their spiles and buckets for the season. Things take their time, but their time is coming!

Have had a few Orc-type dreams lately, but all in all, seem to have survived the experience quite well. After that viewing and two (quite high energy and fun) meetings yesterday, I am nearly through the foot of my brown/orange sock, and am nearly the heel on the Charybdis sock. Such productivity and energy!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Feb. 27: Saturday and Saving Middle Earth

For some reason, I decided it would be fun to watch all three of the "Lord of the Rings" movies. . . I don't think I actually sat down and watched any of them start to finish, so last night (after a terrific evening of show choir at the high school: Younger's group's 80's medley was great, and MDI's and Ellsworth's senior high productions, while very different, were both terrific.) Younger and I came home, cobbled together some dinner, and sat down to watch the first half of "The Fellowship of the Ring."

After a great night's sleep (the night before I woke up a lot from the wind and rain!), some hanging around the house, and then a delicious breakfast out at the Riverside, Younger and I finished #2, and I did two loads of laundry, set it to dry on the rack, went for a run, took Z for a walk with Elder, and showered, whereupon we settled in to start "The Two Towers," which we just finished after a break to make cornbread and salad, admire Elder's picture for art, and take said food to a potluck supper at church. Amidst all that hacking, slashing, amazing scenery, and admiration of Llegolas (OB never looked better. Never.), I did the gorgeous eye-of-partridge heel flap for my orange/brown socks, got through the first 1/2 of the foot of my charybdis sock #2, and wound 8 balls of Peace Fleece's Ancient Fern for the sweater I'm planning.

NOT SO BAD! Still I am feeling like today flew by and might skip church (first time in a long, long time!) just to have some more time to be. Will wait and see how that feels.

Meantime, weather is still sun/rain/cold/warm/snow/rain/wind/sun, but the least of all, sun. We were lucky with our vacation!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Feb. 25: Wet, Wild, and Windy!

February has returned with a vengeance--though it's really more February mixed with late March as our striking dry weather has been replaced by lots and lots of rain, with splatterings of huge wet snow flakes mixed in. We are so lucky we had such nice weather last week: while I'd love to take today to slop around the house in my jams, knitting and reading and maybe taking a nap, a whole week of this gloom, chill and damp would drive us all nuts.

One nice thing is the lack of sun will preserve this:

It is the sturdiest and possibly most prolific amaryllis I've had! It's short, too, which makes it more durable. There are two more stalks coming up! I am, once again, delighted by my Ellsworth Feed and Seed purchase! Marie's apple blossom one is stunning as well, brightening up the main office at school. Lovely things!

I am eyeing this weekend and hoping to watch some "Lord of the Rings" movies with Elder and Younger and also my netflix. I need to get both socks, Ellyn's and the brown ones, over hurdles (heel and I forget what else), and I could start my peace fleece pullover if Marie brings in the swift. . . . so some movies would provide a great backdrop. Saturday night we're out at church for a potluck and the LaRomana group's picture show, which should be fun. Sounds like a nice mix of in and out--after a week of too much out, kicking off a month of "too much out!" But such is March. Ah well.

I'll close with a shot of my vacation accomplishment, my cleaned and organized spice cupboard. . . from this:

to this:

Maybe this is the reason I've been baking so much lately! Martha, eat your heart out!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Feb. 20: Back from Brunswick

Let's see: I knitted on Ellyn's sock toe en route down (2.5 hours). Realized I'd cast on with the wrong sized needles, though I had carefully recorded the correct size. . .just didn't bother to check. Still, took everything out, redid the Knitty '06 magic toe up cast on without the pictures (!!) and was back up to . . . well, the toe, by the time we got to BH's dad's place.

Knitted on plain brown sock (orange top, heel, and toe; yarn packaged together and then given randomly to me!)while visiting with the family. . . about 2 hours. 2"?

While light lasted, started pattern on Ellyn's second sock. Redeemed self by getting pattern going without trouble. Whew. Did about 1" before light failed.

Switched to brown sock and knitted in the dark (yes, boasting) for 2 hours or so. Am about 1" away from heel, so did about 5" total. Yesssssssssssssssss!

Hands are tired. NOT knitting when I read!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Feb. 18: Thursday, and What Have I Done?

Here's the old "gotta get stuff DONE" quandary. . . cleaned the spice cupboard (pics to follow) and have done some good reading and knitting, but today I hope to get down to some good work on the ol' to-do list. Doesn't help that my friend Lori is WHIPPING through her to-dos in preparation for a move!

So, here are my hopes:
--cut the pieces for my bench runner--DONE!
--print out family pic for my errrrr holiday ? card/letter for the year (that would be 2009!)--DONE! Now I have to REwrite the "copy"
--DO SOME TIDYING UP! My bureau and my study are beginning to make me itch!TODAY!
--get a card to the library for the other trustees to sign. . . DID IT! Also got both boys new, much needed sneakers, on sale and with a coupon. . .
--go out to dinner with BH to a restaurant *he* wants to go to that *I* am not so thrilled about. . . Put on a happy face! IT WAS GOOD AND NICE. YAY!
--good swim workout at 1:30 to practice back and breaststroke. . . Elder was very patient on Tuesday! WHEW! I WAS BEAT--GOOD WORKOUT INDEED!

That. Should. Do. It.

Then I'd feel a little more accomplished! Well: except that I managed to start feeling MORE hunted and LESS accomplished. . . stupid brain. And BH's sil has now planned a b'day gathering for BH's brother. . .ON SATURDAY. Two hours away. When the whole family was down there LAST WEEK. I can't decide if I should suck it up and go, thus losing more time, or not. . . BH says not to go if I don't want to, but it's not that easy. My bigger self wars with my smaller self. I have a hunch I'm going. ==sigh==

ETA: Though I managed to get completely distracted and forget to post this entirely! D'OH!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feb. 16: Good Times!

It was wonderful to be in Portland with Julie and Lori; it's wonderful to be home with a list of enticing "to do's" before me. We're even due to have SNOW tonight into tomorrow. Such goodness!

Today the sunshine is streaming in the window and my amaryllis is making a good attempt at blooming (thanks for waiting till I got back!). I am thinking I might attack the spice cupboard and start work on the runner for my new bench--if I at least get the fabric I can skip driving tomorrow if the roads are bad! I do have Library Trustees tonight, and then tomorrow is Ash Wednesday (how the HECK did that happen?), but still. Glorious vacation!

My sinuses are giving me a run (ha! Inadvertent pun, and actually it's an oxymoron) for my money: my ear started crackling on Friday and I had a go round (and round and round) of bad vertigo Sunday night, and today my teeth feel funny, so I will take some drying medicine and hope I can avoid a trip to the dr. Because I. Am. Just. Too. Busy!

Had a very slick bus ride up from Portland: I finished Ellyn's first sock, started the second orange/brown sock, and read a ton of my bargain book: The Circle, by Peter Lovesey. I like his Peter Diamond series, and this is one. . . great characters, and a twisty ending. Finished it last night. Yessssssssss!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Feb. 13: Vacation!

At last! I will leave for Portland with Lori at 11; Elder has already left for States at Orono and Younger and BH leave for family b'day in Brunswick in about an hour. I have swept the floor and have a load of towels in already. Towels? Why towels, you ask? Because Elder's swim team did their States prep at our house yesterday (3 pm on) and of the ten kids we had, three shaved their heads completely, two did total body shaves, and three got substantial hair cuts. So there was a LOT of showering. And hair disposal. Then I fed fourteen people dinner of spaghetti, sauce, bread, salad, and BH, Younger, two of Younger's friends and I made it to a 6 pm showing of "The Lightning Thief," which we'd all read, downtown. WHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was a lot of fun from start to finish (many pics on Facebook, of course) but at about 6:45 in the movie (which I enjoyed, tho it left a lot of stuff out!), I nearly fell asleep.

Am so looking forward to three days in Portland! Lori and Julie have made the reservations for dinner, so I get to just show up, and we're all prepared to drift happily around the city and shore for a few days. I am riding down with L and taking the bus back up, so I can knit or sleep or whatever. Yesssss.

This vacation I have several putzy goals:
--clean the spice cupboard. Enough with waiting for the snow days already.
--clean the top of my bureau.
--start a runner for the top of the bench in the living room. I think I'll pattern it on the Christmas one we had.
--send out our (ahem) Christmas picture to some stalwarts who sent Christmas cards.
--look at fixing the fraying curtains in the bedroom.
--finish a few WIPs if possible: my brown and orange socks and Ellyn's first sock at least.
--go out to dinner with BH!


Monday, February 8, 2010

February 8: More Things I Like

1. The feeling that comes over a class room when everyone is working. Suddenly, we're all headed in the same direction, and it gets. . . peaceful, is the best word I can think of. Love that.

2. Taking off tights and putting on flannel pajama pants.

3. Hot tea. Hot black tea. Ahhhh.

4. Hyacinths coming up to bloom in the house. =Sigh=. My carefully planted ones from this fall are NOT showing, even after six weeks of love and sunshine. Next step: dumping them out to find them 1. uninterested, or 2. mouldy. =Sigh again.=

(This pic is from last year. Granted, it was much snowier last winter, but I'm still misty. I give myself permission to go buy another hyacinth from the grocery store for this year!)

5. Finding a book that sucks me in. It's been a bit! I need one!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Watch This Movie!

"Arranged"--tells the story of a friendship between two women, one Orthodox and one Muslim, living in NYC, who meet each other as their families are amping up their efforts to marry them off. Lovely to watch and very thought-provoking. I'd recommend it highly! Got it through Netflix, and started BH's new, larger, and green chullo hat while watching it.

Now, off for a run in the cccccold. It's hard being tough.

Actually, it's hard only being disciplined enough to go for the run rather than being able to maintain my weight some other way like eating less!

But the sun is out, so the vitamin D will be good too. Off with me!

Feb. 6 ??!!: Whipping through winter!

Not much new snow lately, despite the "snowmaggedon" promised to our nation's capitol. It's been cold enough so I'd like a little more coverage for some of my plants, but since February break in only one week away and Lori, Julie and I are planning a rendezvous in Portland, I will wait till the end of February for any more spectacular snow falls. Please!

Today Elder and BH are in Deer Isle meeting Elder's art mentor and seeing his forge; I plan to get off my duff in a moment, clean up, and head down town to check out the library book sale (I am restlessly between books right now. . . grrrr.) and the studio cleanout sale at the Maine Grind, just for a variation. I also realized at our fun and rowdy knitting group meeting yesterday, that I have four projects "on the needles" and I have just ordered yarn (will go out on Monday) for a sweater, so I want to get cracking on BH's second (bigger) Christmas hat. Since it is 1. very cold and 2. I have a Netflix that's been waiting to be watched for three weeks, it seems 3. like a knitting and watching afternoon might be inevitable. The futon in my study is unfolded, in fact, and might be just the spot!

So this is a quick appearance to say nothing much. I will bemoan the fact that my "Seven Days of Specialness" swap partner seems to have vanished, so my carefully selected and wrapped gifts are sitting in my car, frozen and neglected, and my seven special days are also in limbo. So far, my experience with swaps has been middling to poor. Hmm. Note to self? Or maybe just self pity!

However, to uplift all of our spirits, I will close with a pic of Younger, showcasing his Christmas present to me: comfy, bright pj pants made by himself! They are just what I love and needed. . . We are both delighted!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jan. 31: They're Back!

The La Romana crew is home, safe and sound, tan and tired. . . My two participants arrived around 9:30 pm yesterday, and today the whole group "was the sermon" in church. Each person spoke, movingly, honestly, without notes, about the trip, sharing a key insight. Elder's friend Neal was perhaps the most moving as he said, "Us just being there makes the people happy." Elder read the Lord's Prayer in rapid, beautifully accented Spanish, which totally blew me away. It was a moment of sheer rejoicing for the whole group.

And in the week they were gone, Younger finished my pj pants, his hooked rug (a three year effort), and made himself a knitted "Chain Chomp" hat (Ravelry link)!! Wish *I* could be that productive and crafty!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jan. 25: Monday Work Day

Today was the trade-over day at school, but due to our snow day last week, many of us still have exams tomorrow (errr. . . . that would be me. AP English first thing). Still, it's great to have a chance to draw breath, clean, sort a bit, dump some things, and enter grades, and ponder, looking ahead and behind. And I did a good job today, spending about an hour visiting to start, then cleaning for two hours, then settling in to academic stuff, and some department head issues as well. Left around 3, got stamps--two 50 stamp rolls as opposed to the sheets we've been getting, which feels very secure!--and dropped six boxes of hand-me-over books from school at the library for the book sale. Settled in at home and basking in a sense of accomplishment.

It's gotten VERY warm in the past day, and we had on and off rain and mist. Now, as it gets dark, the rain is settling in, and the wind is rising. I am so very glad we had a day for the earth and snow to get used to the warmth, as we're due to get between one and two inches more precip tonight before we turn back to chillier temps tomorrow. In any case, it will be a noisy night tonight! Safe passage and warm sleeping to everyone in this weather pattern!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jan. 23: The Big Departure Day

Elder and BH left for the DR trip last night. They flew out this am at 6, so stayed overnight in Portland. Got a call this morning that they were on time to leave NYC at 11:17 for Santa Domingo! Much excitement, and it seems that Younger and I are settling down after the anticipation as well. Here's a shot of most of the group from our church prior to departure.

A few more things I like:

1. Our big sturdy new drying rack. I can fit TWO loads of laundry onto it, and that means NO DRYER USE. Yay!

2. Sun on snow. Wow.

3. The Amos Lee cd Elder gave me for Christmas. I play it all the time. He's my new Norah Jones!

4. Meals of soup, bread, and salad, sometimes, but not always, made by someone other than me.

5. Well-written British chick lit.

6. The booties that I can whip through in five-days-provided-we-have-a-long-faculty-meeting-and-a-snow-day. They're fun, very functional, and easy to make. Here's a not-very-good picture of the very pair that earned that name:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Jan. 18: And Now. . .

. . . woke up around 8:30 after a lovely night's sleep to find it snowing tiny, steady, dense flakes! Happy Monday off!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jan. 17: Great ice!

In the midst of all my existential fuss and commotion and insomnia, there is much much much to enjoy and be thankful for. Skating on Eagle Lake today (me in my first ever brand new comfy high tech skates from BH) was certainly a big item on that list.

Breath taking, isn't it? What a great time.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jan. 16: Thin Places

Well. Huge thanks to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for being born in January, thus giving us a three day weekend at at time when, even after a lovely nearly two week break in late December, we really need an extra pj morning. He was a gutsy and amazing man, and one who definitely adds a plus to the checkered history of organized religion, and hooray for a January b'day.

It's odd: I've been having a bit of a struggle with stress, hormones, and sleeping lately. It's the usual combo in which my inner self cooks up exactly the cocktail that will torment my outer self most effectively, because who knows how to drive me crazy better than. . . well, me? So I've been doing the right stuff--eating well, exercising, saying "no," seeing friends, making plans for fun stuff, knitting, keeping an eye on the big picture, taking a sleeping pill instead of lying awake fuming, etc.--but I'm still functioning on about 6 hours of sleep and a mildly suppressed sense of panic about that fact. I know it will pass: I have the journal entries to prove it. Whenever I think, "This is the worst round of insomnia since The First Big One in . . . 2001?" I go to my journal and hey! It's not! This happens every winter--sometimes in November, sometimes in February, often in January. It is, in an odd way, reassuring, as then my job becomes not "fixing it," but getting through it, learning from it, sitting with it. As a pragmatic fixer person, I hate that, but I think it's a good lesson.

AND. . . I am amazed how many of my friends are going through the same type of challenging time. I just got off the phone with my dearest friend, who's bedeviled by stress and worry and sadness, and my closest teaching friend is battling a migraine and generalized worry, and . . . . Suffice it to say, most of the women I know well enough for them to peel back the "Hey, I'm fine!" veneer are at a thin place right now. The earthquake just adds to it, partly as it creates guilt as we have our families around us, our houses intact, our bank accounts reasonably functional, but also as a layer of sadness and mourning.

So maybe this thin place is a part of the cycle of the year (or maybe I've been reading too many mythology-based ya novels: thanks, Terry P and Susan Cooper!), part of cleaning out, dealing with the dust bunnies of frustration with our spouses, global worries, panic about our ability to hold our worlds together. . . NOT THAT IT DOES NOT SUCK! I do not want to underestimate how much I hate the constant thinking about how I'm feeling or the loss of that blissful, freeing spin into the free fall of sleep. But. It feels like this is something female humans do. May we support ourselves and each other through it!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jan. 9: Five Things I Like

I think I bumped into this on someone's blog lately, and it does appeal. I'll do one right now (nearly 4 pm on a Saturday afternoon; lots of good "got tos" behind me, bread rising, soup cooking, sun setting) and then repeat the process whenever I see fit. Ha!

Five Things I Like (In No Particular Order)

1. Dolly Parton. She's sassy, self-deprecating, loyal to her (musical) roots, and certainly a survivor! She also uses banjo backup often--a huge plus.

2. Sunshine on snow.

3. Busy birdfeeders.

4. The feeling I get when I put a bunch of personal letters into the mailbox, flip up the flag, and walk back to the house.

5. The Charybdis sock pattern that Glassoffashion has posted on her site. I'm making it for my sil and it is wonderful: pretty, interesting, fun, great for varigated yarn, and still very easy to remember.

Well, I have to add one that remains as a perennial favorite: well-timed traffic lights. I love the kind that operate on a pressure plate, so I'm never stuck waiting for a non-existent line of traffic to have its turn, and I marvel at the way that a well-planned set can turn a stressful, dangerous experience into a moment of Zen-like calm.

Off to get the mail.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Jan. 3, 2010: The First One!

Home and seated by the window with quiet, warm grey cat behind my head as dog races back and forth amongst us and the furnace works overtime to warm up the house. Had a wonderful, warm, rejuvenating family time with all but one sibling's family for the past four days--a time which really saved the vacation, which until then (well, after the 26th, anyway) had featured way too much of me trying to vacation and too little of me enjoying vacation. Not sure why: full moon, hormones, who knows what? But then we decided, in the teeth of dire snow forecasts, to head to Auburn early, and spent one night at Mom's rather than the hotel, and got to spend an extra evening with John and his wonderful family, and then moved to the hotel and starting visiting in earnest with everyone: Tom and Ellyn and kids, Ann, Dad and Nicci, and John and co (after their bout of illness). . . The extra day allowed Elder, Younger and me to spend a lovely time sledding at the high school and BH to go to see his dad, and that also allowed the wimmenfolk to make their annual Marden's trip, with some terrific results for me (bright green corduroy pants! A hot pink shirt!), and let Younger and BH go see "Avatar," which they'd been hoping to do. And in the muddle as well--good fun times, great simple food, lots of laughter, swimming and hot tubbing, snow watching, awesome hotel breakfasts, presents, listening to 1/2 of Hat Full of Sky, various workouts at the hotel (which always feels chic though efficient and is much fun with company) and much good stuff. What a great vacation.

And now I have two fun knitting projects, a fluff book I'm rereading and am halfway through, some great new clothes, and a lot of thank yous, good memories, and oh yes, a week of school (and food shopping to do tomorrow). But things seem good, happy, good, contented, and. . . happy. Yay!