Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New Routine

School finally finished up last week; I feel like I took my time storing my things this year, in the hopes that the new year will be less stressful and more organized.  I also brought home some of my unit plan binders, so that I can plot out what I'd like to do while I have more time to think.  Of course, I always think I'll do this, but this summer my situation really is different, so I'm hopeful.
Meanwhile, I've been doing some yard work.  It turns out that I actually love weeding; I think it's very meditative and therapeutic, but I also love how visible and immediate the results are.  That being said, I also am trying to minimize the amount of upkeep I need to do, so I changed this little area last week.  The space at the front left of the photo is a little extension of the large flower bed; it was a little section of weedy grass that I turned into a bed a few years ago, but the gate caught on the edging every time I opened it.  Instead of weeding and mulching it yet again, I dug an inch or two down to remove all the weed/grass roots, poured a layer of sand, and then used river rocks as edging and hardscape.  I liked it so much, I decided to do the same with the strip of unnecessary grass along the deck, the length of the driveway strips.    I plan to continue to add and widen so that the area to the garage door, just to the right of the picture, is done this way, but as it's a bit pricey, I'm taking my time with it.  I really like it though.  
Surprisingly, I haven't been to the beach much at all. This picture was taken before the last week of school, and it's the last time I was there.  Of course, it's probably the last nice day we've had, as it seems like every day is cloudy and/or rainy.  
Gracie has begun begging for belly rubs, by throwing herself on any available rug. This one is in the bathroom, and this picture reminds me that replacing the ugly linoleum is another home improvement project I'd like to do this summer.
I took this picture this morning, as Gracie and I took our time getting up.  It's safe to say that we both enjoy the slower pace of summer.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

It's Almost Summer Break!

I can't believe it, but another school year is coming to an end.  Thursday is my final day with students until September!  I have to say, this semester has been a fabulous one, so I'm kind of sad for it to end, although I will enjoy my time off.  I started going through the stuff in my classroom last week in an effort to pack it all up in a more organized way, and to get rid of the stuff I no longer want or need, so I feel like I'm in a good place.  

I finally got back in my yard this week as well; apparently, the month of May was the rainiest one on record, which meant that the weeds got out of control, and I was out of the routine of doing yard work.  I decided to cut the grass after work on Thursday, as the temperature was in the low sixties, and I did some of the trimming with the weed whacker last night.  I spent a couple of hours weeding the flower beds today, but although I have quite a bit more to do, it's going to have to wait.  I'm going to sit on the beach with a friend tomorrow as a reward for all my hard work, and to make sure I'm not exhausted on Monday.

I put the cages around the tomatoes; still don't know how to tell when this variety is ripe.
Zucchini blossom
Eggplant blossom


I went to the Chrysler Museum for a little while this morning to celebrate Knit in Public day, along with quite a few people from my local yarn shop, Baa Baa Sheep, and the Tidewater Knitting Guild. It's a great space, with lots of natural light.  
I wish I had taken a picture of my shawl there instead of at home, in artificial light, on the messy chair, but there you go.
I think I'm nearly done with this, but I'm not sure.  I have a hard time estimating how much yarn I have left, and I want to use it all up.  I am enjoying the pattern, even if I'm not knitting particularly fast.  I need to break out the cotton yarn for beach dish cloth knitting.
Gracie continues to photogenic.
 I think she sleeps in the oddest positions!
Hope you all are well and I hope my posts get a little more interesting! Maybe once I'm a little less tired?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

And Now, the Gratitude

Such wonderful, kind words from you all.  Thank you so much.  My week has been very busy, as the school year comes to a close. So many deadlines! Every email is marked Urgent! State testing every day! The stress level is palpable around this time, especially at the high school level. I received my 20 year service pin this week too, which is kind of mind blowing.  I cannot believe it has been that long since I started this career.  And although this profession seems undervalued and under attack, I can't imagine myself doing anything else.  I am so very fortunate to have the privilege of working with young people, because even though it can be frustrating at times, it is also amazing to be able to do such creative work on a daily basis.  It keeps me on my toes and always learning something new, either about a topic or about myself.  

I drove to Richmond yesterday to meet up with Stephanie for the first time since her return from her teaching stint in France.  It was wonderful visiting with her and catching up face-to-face.  We ate at Kuba, Kuba, one of my favorite Richmond restaurants, then walked around the Fan District for a bit.  The traffic on I64 was terrible but that's pretty normal for a summer Saturday.  


I have been walking on the weekends, although not on the beach for some reason.  Instead, I've been driving to nearby neighborhoods and parking the car, so I can explore new places.  I spotted this heron on my walk last Sunday, in the neighborhood near the Hermitage Museum.  Norfolk has a lot of wetland areas, which makes the scenery more interesting, I think.



I need to stay home and catch up on the yard work as I've been "running the roads" too much, as my mother-in-law used to say, but I guess the weeds will wait for me.  
 Finally, Gracie, sunning in one of her favorite spots: the beat up dresser I use in the kitchen to store napkins, dish towels, and tablecloths.  
The two windows make it a perfect spot for monitoring the birds and wandering neighborhood cats.  Unless she's posing for her photo session, that is.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Grief, Continued

Isn't it odd, that moments of grief seem to occur out of the blue?  I think it's similar to the way children progress through developmental stages, in that a jump from one stage to the next is usually preceded by a perceived regression, if that makes sense.  All this is to say that although I am doing so very well these days, I sometimes stumble into moments of grief.  Yesterday, I drove up to Baltimore, to visit a couple who are preparing to move to Barcelona for the first stage of their retirement, and to pick up a framed print I was buying from them.  I should have expected this to be difficult for a number of reasons, and it was.  Firstly, I only know this couple as a result of being married to Steve, as he went to school with the wife.  But what made the trip even harder was the city itself, as it was full of good memories from when we were happy together.  All of my knowledge of Baltimore comes from visiting there multiple times with Steve, as it is his hometown, and we spent quite a few weekends there, exploring the city together, over the past eleven years.  And this was my first trip back alone.  Even harder, was hearing that he'll be up there next weekend for her going away party with a "plus one".  Someone new, taking my place.  So hard.  

But.  Today is a new day, and I'll be back on track in no time.  I know that I'm grieving for what it used to be, and for what I wanted it to be, rather than what it really was. In other words, I'm grieving for an illusion, and I have to let that go.  And most of the time I do.  But once in awhile, grief catches me by surprise.  


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Simple Pleasures

I have spent the last six months or so adjusting to my new status of living alone, and while there have been days that were difficult, it has been a positive experience for the most part. At first, it felt important to make some obvious changes, like cleaning out stuff Steve left behind, and rearranging some furniture, but lately I feel like I've started to make changes that go a little deeper than surface level. It's hard to explain, but one example is my kitchen junk drawer.  It was full of miscellaneous odds and ends and one day I decided to dump everything that wasn't recognizeable or useful to me.  My kitchen has very little storage space as it is, and I was allowing one drawer to be completely wasted just because it had always been designated the junk drawer!  That may seem like a small thing, but it seems symbolic to me in the sense that I allowed myself to decide how to use the space, instead of just maintaining the status quo.   I also took down the dark burgundy bedroom curtains that we had had since we married and bought new white ones, which led to me buying a new pink and white quilt.  Now I've decided that I want to paint my bedroom pink, so I picked out some paint chips last Sunday.  I haven't had a pink bedroom since I was twelve years old, but it is exactly the color I want.   The yard is another area where I feel as if I'm flexing my decision making muscles.  I cut down the tree that was making the back of the garage a mess, had someone in to grind it down and clear out the rest of the debris that had accumulated back there, and now I'm planning to have a load of pea gravel delivered to put around it as a solution to the weedy dead zone it has been ever since I've lived here. I've also been pruning things that have been left overgrown, and created a new flower bed by the front porch, so that now when I come home, I feel a sense of pride in the way it all looks.    
This is one of my cherry tomato plants that is already producing!  I'm not sure how to tell when they're ripe though.
I received my copy of Making in the mail today; it is loaded with gorgeous projects and patterns.  If you think $24 is too expensive, just know that it's well worth it for the knitting patterns alone, and they're only a portion of what's included.  I also ordered a circular Lykke needle, as I've been interested in the idea of a driftwood needle ever since they came out.  I'll let you know how I like knitting with it, as I'm planning on using it with my Playground Shawl.  
I think I mentioned last time that Gracie and I are really enjoying the knitting/yarn room, now that I've finally organized it.  This week it's been so soothing to listen to the rain while I knit, with her either on the chair beside me or behind me, purring away.   
She doesn't really like the camera pointed at her; look at this side-eye!
I can't believe I only have three weeks left of school.  I feel like I have so many ideas I still want to do with my students but I'm running out of time.  I always feel like I need to be a better planner but after twenty years, I don't see much chance of changing, but I can always hope, can't I?    

Saturday, May 20, 2017

This Week

After my legal event last week, plus a minor outpatient surgical procedure that required two days off work, I felt like I was playing catchup all week.  The thing about teaching is that when you aren't there, you have to work extra to prepare, then you work extra when you return.  It's why most teachers accrue so much leave: it's such a pain to be out.  But now that it's Friday, I feel like I have finally caught up, or at least as much as I ever can catch up, if that makes sense.

There was a faculty happy hour function Friday that I attended, but unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay very long, as a cool weather front coming in gave me a rather severe headache.  I came home and had some coffee, medication, and spent most of the evening knitting quietly in my lovely yarn room, with Gracie nearby.  Luckily, it eased quite a bit.  Maybe I need to spend more time knitting quietly?  I know Gracie enjoyed it.  Here she is after climbing into an empty basket.




 I'm working on a Playground Shawl, using two skeins of stash yarn, Frolicking Feet, and Fiber Company Canopy.  It's an easy pattern, but I have had to start over a few times for one reason or another.  No matter, I'm quite happy with it anyway.




I bought more mulch this week, in the hopes of doing some more yard work, but the weather might not cooperate this weekend.  I want to extend the flower bed by my front porch to include some bulbs my parents gave me from their yard, an azalea my sister gave me, and a butterfly bush that I need to move, before I kill it by dragging the garden hose over it.


The shells I've placed around this bed make me think of the book, Roxaboxen, I used to read to the girls.



I spent today doing everything but gardening however.  I took my mom to the Hermitage Museum, consignment store shopping, and lunch, to celebrate Mother's Day, since last weekend was my dad's birthday.  Then I met a friend at the Norfolk Greek Fest for dinner, so all in all it was a lovely Saturday. 


Now Gracie is ready to curl up and snooze. 


Monday, May 15, 2017

It's Official

My divorce was finalized on May 10 and I have to say, it's a relief to have it over and done with.  Other than a few glitches every so often, my life is in a really good place.  My health has improved, my house and yard are looking better than they ever have, and summer is not too far off.
Aren't these pictures of the beach beautiful?
Gracie loves to hang out on the back of the couch and sometimes, she falls asleep in the most interesting poses.
I don't know why she loves to do this but she does.  So cute.
I finally reorganized my yarn room; I moved some furniture around, moved some out, and this time, I think it'll stay this way for awhile.
I still have some odds and ends to sort, but I enjoy being in there now.
I really love my fairy lights; can you see them?
This was taken in there as well, after Gracie crawled up on the back of the pink chair to get closer to me.  Such a face!
It's been busy and hectic and stressful, but I think it'll be a bit calmer now.  I hope you all enjoyed Mother's Day, no matter how you celebrated it.  Back again soon!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Still Here

Gracie and I are still here, going through our days.  She loves her window perch in the kitchen.  Work is going really well, which helps a lot.  I can't believe I only have about seven weeks left, although I probably say that every year.  

When the weather is good, I'm in the yard as much as possible, and as a result, I think it's really shaping up.  I had a small setback last weekend when I ran over my electric cord with the lawn mower but thankfully my dad repaired it for me, so I didn't have to replace it.  The 100 ft cords are not cheap.  I'll have to be more cautious from now on, especially since it seems it did blow out the circuit.  But those are only around $10-$15 to replace as opposed to $50-$60.  I stopped by Home Depot on the way home today and bought ten bags of mulch and put them down tonight.  I can't remember how many bags I bought over spring break, but it was at least that many.  I could easily use another ten, but as it's supposed to rain on Friday, I think I'll wait.


I feel as if I'm at a different doctor every time I turn around these days and I'm healthy!  I saw the dermatologist on Monday, and had something taken off my knee, I go to a hand surgeon tomorrow to have something removed from my finger (yard injury), and next week I'm having some outpatient surgery on my eyelids, which of course requires a pre-op visit.  Not the best time to be missing time from work but I don't have a lot of choice.  I'm also having bunion surgery on one foot this summer, as well as some oral surgery!  Being over 55 years old definitely requires serious upkeep!  

I thought about going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend, but decided I have too much to do around here.  My plans are to clear out some more clutter and take care of some paperwork I've been procrastinating.   But hopefully there will also be time for a little of this:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Betwixt and Between

I feel as if I'm in a bit of a holding pattern as I wait for my divorce to be finalized.  There are many things I'd like to write about, but can't, as this is too public a platform, and that has had the effect of keeping me quieter than I'd like.  This past weekend was a challenge but I'm not really sure why, unless it was due to the grey weather.  I saw friends, took walks, and generally tried to make sure I did some things that I know are good for me, but I was a little blue nonetheless.  Anyway, I came through it and I'm back at work and feeling much better, so all is well.  I know there are some things I need to do inside my house that will help my state of mind, so the sooner I stop procrastinating, the better.  
I am very happy with the amount of yard work I did over my spring break.  I ended up planting three cherry tomato plants, three zucchini squash plants, and three eggplant plants, all in the front beds.  I transplanted a few rose bushes to make room for the vegetables, and I did lots and lots of weeding.  Still plenty to do, but I'm okay with that.
I only managed to walk on the beach once that week; the light was gorgeous.
 My knitting room is a disaster area and I think it's having a negative impact on my knitting.  I pulled these two skeins out and began the Nymphalidea shawl, but I'm not in love with it, which is weird, because I bought these at Rhinebeck in 2015 with that pattern in mind.  I've stuck with it so far, but I'm really considering ripping it out and casting on for the shawl in the Mason Dixon Knitting Book #3, since I have so much yardage.  Then again, maybe not.
One constant is Gracie.  Whether she is napping with one eye open,
 Or sound asleep,
Or giving me the cutest look ever, 
She's my sweet shadow, sticking by my side as much as she can.    

Hope you all have a lovely week.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Busy Days

Oh my goodness, this has been a busy week.  I had brunch with friends on Saturday, bought a new lawn mower and weed trimmer on Sunday, and have worked in my yard for three to four hours every single day since then.  But I made sure to do other things as well, like reading, knitting, walking, and meeting friends for coffee and lunch.
My mom has wanted to ride the Tide, our area's light rail, so we did that on Monday.  We met my daughter, Melissa, for coffee, then mom and I played tourist, walking around downtown Norfolk, touring the Slover library and the newest hotel on Main Street, before having lunch in a bookstore cafe.  It was such fun!
 This view was from the hotel; the little bit of water you can see is the Elizabeth River, Norfolk's waterfront harbor area.  Those heads in the picture are actually a sculpture in the hotel lobby, not real people.  We had gorgeous weather for our little adventure, and walked a lot!
 My tulips have finally blown, but it seemed like they lasted a long time this year.
Gracie enjoyed my week off, although I wasn't inside with her very much.  Still, she knew I was around, and in and out of the house; here is a shot of her enjoying the morning sunshine.
I took advantage of the beautiful weather to photograph my finished Hitchhiker shawl.
I spent Wednesday morning in the Ghent section of Norfolk, at Baa Baa Sheep, my local yarn shop, but I also spent a lot of time walking through the neighborhoods there too, enjoying the azaleas.
Today, I walked around the Freemason area, which has a lot of Victorian style homes, before visiting an exhibit of Toulouse-Lautrec's work at the Chrysler Museum with Melissa, who had the day off.
We ate our fish taco lunch al fresco; the weather this week could not have been better.
This picture was taken at the end of the street Melissa lives on; I love the view.
I came home to finish tidying up my yard work by mulching the vegetable bed I planted.  I put in two cherry tomato plants and three zucchini plants, although I may need to move one of the zucchini; not sure there will be enough room for them all.  
 Although my yard is looking pretty nice, the inside of my house looks as if I'm in the process of moving in or moving out!  At the beginning of the break,  I decided that I would work outside as long as the weather was nice, and work inside if it rained, but it never rained!  So now, I need to get the inside straightened up before Monday.  I can't believe the week is over already!  Other than that though, it really has been a nice mix of relaxing and working in the yard.  I'm very happy with all I accomplished outside, and I think I'll go back on Monday satisfied and rested.  
And before I know it, it'll be summer break! Right?