Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Sunday, April 26, 2015


I am happy to say that my dad's surgery went well and he is recovering on schedule with a minimum of pain. I spent Friday night in his room with him, as he was still pretty out of it, and we wanted to make sure he could get help when he needed it. Although sleeping in a chair is not exactly restful, I did okay, and it was worth it. I couldn't have done it if it had been during the week, and it allowed my mom to get a good night's sleep, as I know she didn't get much rest the night before the surgery. I hung out with them most of the weekend, but am going back to work tomorrow. He is being discharged from the hospital tomorrow, but will be in the same facility for the rest of the week in the rehab portion of the building. He wasn't too keen on the idea, but we convinced him that it would be best for him and mom to build up his strength before coming home.

I came home before dark today so I could spend some time in the yard weeding. I felt like I needed to spend some time outdoors getting some exercise after spending so much time just sitting around at the hospital.

I also picked up my new glasses this week; one pair of sunglasses and one pair of regular glasses, and I'm pretty happy with both of my choices.


My lilacs are so beautiful, aren't they?

And our strawberry plants have the prettiest blooms.

After I finished working in the yard, I picked some of our asparagus to roast, sautéed some mushrooms, and put it over polenta with cheese for a quick and easy dinner.

And Gracie took a nap on the book I just finished. Such a sweetie.

I know this post is a bit scattered, but it was a choice between this way or no post at all. Have a good week!



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Sweet Girl

I had dinner with my youngest daughter tonight. We walked about six blocks to the restaurant from where we parked our cars, and on the way back, she took a selfie of us to post on Instagram.

I love this girl!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Another Week

Last week was a struggle, due to a number of reasons. On the first day back from break, I had to leave after only teaching one block, in order to accompany my parents to a doctor appointment. My dad has been in pain from his sciatica nerve for the past several months and after exhausting all the other avenues of treatment, he saw a surgeon on Monday. I wanted to go because at 78, it's hard for him to keep up with a rapid explanation of options and information, and my mother, who is otherwise quite sharp, has a hearing loss that limits her ability to hear everything that is said. So I went to take notes and make sure my concerns were addressed. We had heard that this particular surgeon, while very good, could be quite brusque, but I did not find that to be true. He took plenty of time with the three of us and I couldn't have been more pleased. My dad will have surgery this Friday, and is expected to stay in the hospital for 3-4 nights. I will be there, along with my sister and mother, for the day, and possibly the day she takes him home, which will mean more substitutes for my students.

This brings me to the reason my week was so challenging. I started the novel, Things Fall Apart, with my Honors 10 class on Monday, expecting them to rise to the challenge. They have been an enjoyable and cooperative group up until this point, and we seemed to have a good rapport. When I came back on Tuesday, things did indeed fall apart in class. They were frustrated with the reading, and unfortunately, that was also the day I returned their poorly written research papers. Whew. We barely made it through the block. It shook me up more than it should have because I'm frequently too sensitive to student remarks. You'd think after 18 years in the classroom I'd know better, but that's not how I'm built. I am a very reflective teacher by nature, and sometimes this leads me to doubt my instructional decisions, which is what I found myself doing, even more so since I hadn't taught this novel before. In addition, my teaching style is structured upon building relationships within my classroom and with the population I teach, this is normally a very successful strategy. Except it isn't so much of a strategy for me as it is simply the way I am, which is why I love teaching in the district I'm in. I've chosen to teach in the so-called underprivileged schools for the entirety of my career, and trust me, I have had the opportunity to do otherwise. I find it to be as rewarding as it is challenging, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Except on the days it sucks. And that day definitely sucked.

The following day I went in there and told the class that we were a community built on trust and that I was disappointed with their passive-aggressive comments; that I had never asked them to do anything they couldn't do and that I expected more from them. From there, I told them that I had wanted them to read about the Ibo culture without any background from me so that they could better understand how strange it seemed to the British missionaries when they arrived. And I followed that up with a little historical background on the nature of colonization and how it wreaked havoc on the existing cultures and before I knew it, we were all back on track again. The rest of the week went very well, at least until the weekend, the majority of which was spent in bed, exhausted from allergies and a mild infection which required an antibiotic.

But the best part of the week was the beautiful weather and the spring flowers in our yard.



The cats, looking like the best of friends, sharing some cat grass. Trust me, looks are deceiving.

Apparently they call a truce during meal times.

I even made two quiches, using the asparagus from our garden. So delicious. I gave one to my parents, as my mom has been complaining that although I tell her how much asparagus we eat, I never share any with them. Done and done.

Only two more work days for me this week, as I'll be spending Friday at the hospital while my dad undergoes surgery. Thank goodness for knitting, as I'm sure the waiting would be much harder without it. Please send good thoughts my way this Friday. Thanks!



Sunday, April 12, 2015


It's the last Sunday night of spring break and I probably got more done today than I did all week! As usual, I'm berating myself for not accomplishing enough on my to-do list. Why is that? As if relaxing and reading aren't productive enough to count for anything. I know some of this is due to my mother's work ethic and example. At 75, she attends an exercise class every day, as well as keeping up with house and yard work, while I often feel as if I'm frittering my time away if I'm not working as hard as she does. My house and yard are never up to the standards she sets for herself and yet it's not as if she ever says anything about either.

Speaking of not working, I had a little quiet time one morning this week and after spending too much time scrolling through Facebook and reading blogs, I picked up my knitting. And as I knit on my gazillionth wash/dish cloth, I thought about why I haven't gotten around to finishing the three (four?) almost completed sweaters I've got tucked away somewhere in the craft room. I'm not really sure. I know two have mistakes and I don't seem to want to spend the time thinking about how to fix them, but that doesn't explain the other two. Fear of finishing? Fear of fit is probably the closest to the truth, but still, that's just silly.

I love making things and have always crafted, but knitting has not only given me a craft that's portable enough to allow me to devote lots of time to it, it has given me an entire community and culture as well, in a way that no other craft has before. I wonder how much of this is due to the Internet, but bottom line is, it doesn't really matter because this is the craft I don't think I'll ever tire of.

Anyway, I did get lots of yard work done, as is evident by the amount of weeds and branches that are bagged up and waiting for trash pickup day AND my aching back and shoulders. According to the MyPlate app on my phone, weeding uses more calories than walking, so that motivated me to do more than I had planned, which is a good thing. I'd show pictures of the yard, but as I didn't take any "before" photos, it isn't really photo worthy. And I managed to go through my closet this evening in preparation for the work week; it's a bit ridiculous how many skirts I own, regardless of the fact that all of them were bought at the thrift store. It was eye-opening, to say the least. Again, not really something to photograph, even if I'm satisfied with the accomplishment.

I do, however, have lots of cat photos, probably because I spent so much time with them this week!


Fern, my youngest daughter's cat, is on the left, and Gracie is on the right. They're not the best of friends although they get along most of the time. I think Gracie tries to pretend Fern isn't really here.

Fern likes to drag my yarn out during the night and here she is, bold as brass, with a ball.

She also is desperate to get outside, despite our refusal to allow her. She sneaks out as often as she can, but thankfully doesn't run from us when she's successful. We just scoop her up and bring her back inside, where she meows to be let out.

Even though I think Gracie will be glad when she goes back to live with Melissa, I will miss her playful ways.

I'm off to bed and hopeful that my first day back will be a short and uneventful one. I think a lot of coffee will be the order of the day tomorrow. Only 44 more school days until summer, but who's counting?


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April, Come She Will

Looks like I've made it to spring break! Steve planned a weekend away to help me de-stress, knowing that going away at the beginning of the week is much better than going away the weekend before going back to work. He booked us a cabin at Staunton River State Park and the weather was perfect. I think this picture of us is my favorite:

The cabin's large deck overlooked the river, and provided the perfect place to sit and read, which is what we did for at least half of our time. I read Things Fall Apart, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines, all school related books, and all enjoyable.

The light was simply gorgeous. We did manage to go hiking on Sunday, and saw a couple of snakes, as well as a few deer.




The peace and quiet was amazing, wonderful, and so restful.

On our drive home on Monday, we stopped at Appomattox Courthouse, unaware that this is the week of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Luckily, the crowds hadn't shown up yet, but they were preparing for a big event.


Isn't the sky beautiful? Hard to imagine how many lives were lost on these fields.


We also spent some time relaxing in a lovely coffee shop in Farmville, and all in all, enjoyed the drive back almost as much as the weekend itself.

I spent time running errands with my mom this morning, and my daughter this afternoon, so I'm hoping to stay home tomorrow and do some stuff around the house, including planting some herbs and flowers in pots for our deck, and swapping out my winter clothes for spring and summer stuff. It already feels like the week is slipping by too fast, but isn't that always the way? Enjoy your week, whatever your plans are.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

March Madness

Life is going fairly well right now, probably because I'm writing this on a Saturday, after I slept in and then took a three hour nap. Feeling rested does wonders for my attitude. This past week was a particularly disheartening one, as some of the adults in my building behaved quite badly and at first, I let it get under my skin. But thankfully, work is not all I have in my life, and I had some very restorative evenings to offset my less than wonderful days.

On Monday night, Steve and I went to an ODU basketball playoff game; my alma mater is in the NIT and the game was an exciting buzzer win for us.

My friend, Lori, and her boyfriend went with us; she's my coworker, knitting buddy, and the friend I hang out with most. We always have a great time, no matter what we get up to.


Wednesday night, Melissa and I met for dinner and then saw the documentary, She's Beautiful When She's Angry, a retrospective look at the Women's Movement. Although I usually wish for the time when my daughters were young, this was one of those times I enjoyed so much more because she's 25, and we can share a common enthusiasm together. It was a great night, and if you have a chance to see the film, do it! Thursday night was knit night, and last night was a fondue birthday party for a friend and the chance to relax with a group of my friends with whom I worked for the first fifteen years of my career. Some of them are retired now and it was great to hang out together, discussing all the things women discuss when they have a chance to just focus on each other. Doing this much during the work week was probably the reason I needed a nap today!


Speaking of work, I had my Honors class do a banned book research project this month, and because I mentioned how much I like John Green's books, two girls brought in their copies of his books so I could borrow them, isn't that sweet? I plan to read them over spring break, hopefully while sitting on the beach.

I also got a gift from Stephanie, a lovely note and a pair of earrings in the shape of Togo, the African country where she is stationed. Miss that girl so much.

Steve and I were able to fit in a quick walk on the beach this afternoon, and while it was awfully brisk, it was also incredibly beautiful.

I just got back from a knitting pajama party that was held at the knit store where we have our weekly stitch and bitch group. Although the chairs aren't very comfortable, the people are nice and the owner does a great job with it. We all bring a dish to share and she provides drinks and a door prize for everyone.

Tomorrow I'll spend some time with family at my parents' house, and hopefully take another walk on the beach, before beginning the last week before spring break. Pretty sure I can make it, hope you can too!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Saturday in Spring

This week was a long one; the foreshadowing of it came early Tuesday morning when the alarm went off and I could have sworn it was Saturday morning. But the week eventually ended, on a rainy, grey Friday, that was filled with practice tests and seat work. Boring for the students but necessary for me for a change of pace that fit the weather. I went to bed at 9 p.m. and slept for twelve hours.

Today was cool but beautifully sunny, and I I spent most of it with my daughter, Melissa, wandering around an area of Norfolk that I love, leisurely drinking coffee and talking with each other. Although I miss the years my girls were little and lived with me, it's a wonderful gift to be adult friends with one another. We spent part of our time at the phone store, upgrading our phones and lowering my phone bill, an errand that was long overdue.

I was able to knit some as well, turning this gorgeous yarn into a shawlette,

although this is as far as I've gotten.

But I love the yarn; the color is called Tuscany, and I can see the purple and green of the Tuscan vineyards in it, can't you?


And thankfully, the spring bulbs are blooming, even though the flower beds need some cleaning up, as the winter has left them looking brown and bedraggled.

I also finished the latest Anne Lamott book, Small Victories. I love all of her essays; they are so accessible and yet so profound that I always feel the need to read them at least twice. I own most of her books and although I borrowed this one from the library, I will probably end up buying a copy, so I can read it again later on. She seems to get better and better.

Hope your area is feeling spring-like!