Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Settling In

What's your super-power?


Just popping in here to thank everyone for the good thoughts and words about my new position. No surprise, everything is going just great. All the people I've met so far at my new school has been extraordinarily welcoming, helpful, and friendly. I'll post photos of my classroom soon. It's been busy, but good.


Sunday, August 26, 2012


I cannot believe how nervous I am about starting work tomorrow. When I first started the transfer process, I knew it was time for a change, time to be reinvigorated, to learn new things about my craft, but just now, I'm in a bit of a mess. I know that two weeks from now, I'll be fine, but I kind of wish I was there already.


In an effort to distract myself, I have been buying cookbooks and reading cooking blogs. As a result, Stephanie was the lucky recipient of my burst of homemaking, in the form of a warm batch of Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip cookies to take back to Richmond. She came home last night for a few things she had forgotten. I even packed the cookies in the oatmeal box and explained how that was the way cookies used to be mailed in dorm room care packages, lo, these many years ago. And since she had to be on her way before I finished my last minute baking project, I packed up the remaining cookie dough as well, so she can make a fresh batch when she feels like it.

I already mentioned buying the book, Dinner: A Love Story, but I also picked up The Blooming Platter and The Homemade Pantry. I don't know why, but reading these books has been akin to the nesting instinct you get right before birth. Maybe this is more similar to giving birth than I realize. Aside from becoming a mother, teaching has been the most life changing experience I've ever undergone, even more than marriage in many ways.

Now, I'm up way too late for someone who needs to get up at 6:30 a.m., but I'm hoping a little knitting will settle me right down. That, and a little dose of muscle relaxant.

Oh, by the way, has anyone seen the movie, Another Year? We watched it tonight and I'm not sure how I feel about it.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Moving On

Calming down just a bit about the upcoming school year. I met with a teacher I know through the AVID program and she helped me out quite a bit, including helping me pick out my cubby in the workroom. Steve also had some good advice for me; he suggested that instead of trying to fit all my old stuff into the new room, that I take the opportunity to start fresh. For some reason, that helped me make the paradigm shift I needed to make. I immediately decided to donate two boxes of empty binders to the AVID teacher, threw out a box of miscellaneous junk, and brought home two boxes of books to store in the garage. In addition, I've decided to let go of the boxes of science books I saved, as I really doubt I will go back to teaching that subject. It's funny, I couldn't admit that in June, but now I'm ready. It's time to move on.


Steve and I went out to dinner Wednesday night, then took a walk on the Norfolk waterfront afterwards.

I tried to capture the rosy glow of sundown here.


And the waxing moon over the battleship, Wisconsin.

This one turned out rather nicely.

I've also been cutting my zinnias and rosemary for vases around the house that are both pretty and aromatic.

As well as taking photos of this busy fellow, as he raids the bird feeders.


Moving on, that's me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Small Freakout

I went to Trader Joe's yesterday, to buy Stephanie some food to take with her to Richmond, and ran into a former coworker and her little boy. He's such a cutie.

I picked some zinnias from our yard and put in a few sprigs of rosemary as well, for a spicy smelling bouquet of summer-ness, as the season winds down.
I must say, I'm starting to freak out a bit about my new teaching position. I went into my classroom today and finished unpacking the boxes I had transferred, but it feels so weird, because I have to share the room and I don't know the boundaries about decorating it. It looks so sterile and bleak, but I don't know what I can do until I meet with my "roommate" next week. I'm used to warm wooden cabinets and lots of light and now I don't have that. At least I have windows; not all the classrooms do at this school. And where will all my plants go?
I don't even know if this bookcase is available to me; there are so many different sets of books in here, and I don't know which ones stay and which ones go.
Oh well, this is what I asked for, and I know it'll be okay once the students show up, but meanwhile? Meanwhile, I'm quietly freaking out.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Good Day

I had two back to back doctor's appointments this morning, so I decided to treat myself to a little wander afterwards. I was disappointed that I had forgotten my camera, but that's okay. I visited my favorite local bookstore and ate lunch in their little cafe, while reading one of the new books I bought, No Running in the House Without a Helmet, by Melissa Fay Greene, the author of Praying for Sheetrock. It's a book about her family's experience of adopting five children, and as you would expect if you've read her work, it's a great read. I had a delicious lunch of tuna fish salad with Craisins and enjoyed the solitude. I even kept the radio off in the car as I ran my few errands, just listening to the silence. I must be saving up that sound in preparation for the upcoming school year, as silence is in short supply in the high school environment.


I'm not photo-less though, since Steve and I took a morning walk yesterday.


Can you see that amazing spider web?

Happy Monday!


Sunday, August 19, 2012


These feathers are for Meredith at Mereknits, as she adjusts to living with a child away at college. Trust me, it gets easier.


I thought of you when I saw these this morning, Mere!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I am re-reading all of Laurie Colwin's books, one right after the other. They put me in a wonderful mood, which is just what I need right now. I just put down the book, Happy All the Time, which is such a hopeful story. And I read her Home Cooking books every winter, usually when I'm slightly sick with a cold and need comforting. I can't remember when I first heard about her, but I know it's been years and years. Possibly it was when she died, back in 1992, when I was only 32 years old and 48 seemed so far in the future. Now I'm four years older than she was when she died. How did that happen?

Reading her books always makes me feel domestic for awhile, so I went to the farmer's market and bought a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, and cooked a lovely dinner with most of them, then made a cobbler with fresh peaches and blueberries using this recipe. I really want to make a clafoutis, but Steve requested a cobbler, so I made that instead.



I think part of my melancholia is from seeing the movie "Hope Springs" yesterday. While it was a wonderful film, the scenes of the two characters sitting in the marriage counselor's office was so devastating and painfully familiar, that I cried through a major portion of it. And even though the movie has a happy ending, my first marriage didn't. And as if that wasn't enough sadness, I decided to rent and watch "Heartburn". Such a sad story.

I need to get back to work.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Last Batch and A Surprise or Two

I had enough pears to make one more batch of preserves, so I went back to my post about making them, but found I hadn't linked the recipe for some reason, so here it is. I also found an easier to read (no ads) version on this blog. I ended up with two good batches, since the first batch was so overcooked, you couldn't dig it out of the jar. I ended up having to boil the jars in order to loosen the jam out. Not bad, from one spindly pear tree.

I substituted for a 9th grade English class today; pretty easy, and nothing like actually teaching, but it's decent money, so I took it. It went well enough and slightly allayed my worries about the difference in grade levels. I spent an hour or two in my new school yesterday, transferring my twenty boxes of books and files from the first floor to the second. Thank goodness there is an elevator, and the secretary loaned me a cart, so it only took four trips. I managed to unpack about two thirds of the boxes, using two drawers of the file cabinet for book storage. I won't be able to have as many baskets and plants as I'm used to, but it'll work out. I'm planning to spend some time in there again on Thursday, and hopefully be able to finish unpacking.

Steve and I had a breakfast date Sunday morning and had this wonderful view while we ate.

It's the Lynnhaven River, which acts like a channel to the Chesapeake Bay, so it has lots of boat traffic.

Not sure if you can tell, but that's a Great Blue Heron standing there.

Melissa and I met for coffee on Sunday afternoon, and we took a walk in a different neighborhood from the one I walked through on Saturday. I love being a tourist in my own city, don't you?

Love the glass blocks around the pretty teal door.

Isn't this arched door lovely?
A gargoyle! Quite a surprise here.

We even found this small wildlife sanctuary tucked away in the middle of this neighborhood. I've lived in this city my whole life and didn't know this was here.



It was tiny and full of mosquitoes, but still fun to walk through, like a secret garden.

A beautiful surprise, for our troubles. Some people believe that feathers are gifts, and I think they may be right.

What surprises have you found so far this week?


Saturday, August 11, 2012


I went to a coffee shop this morning to get some lesson planning done. It seems I don't have a room of my own in this new school, due to overcrowding and I don't know how to deal with that. I have twenty boxes of stuff sitting in that building and I have no idea where it's all going to go, if not my own room. I'm trying not to complain, because this change is exactly what I wanted, but I am definitely freaking out. A lot. So I decided to try and get a handle on some of the lessons I'll be teaching, although even though those will be subject to change, once I meet with my department. Still, it's better than showing up cold. The theme for the first quarter is The Power of the Individual, and I think I can do a lot with that topic. The Olympics should be a great introduction to it; I hope most of the kids have been watching some of them. Gabby Douglas is from our area, so that should provide a pretty good hook. I'm also going to try and incorporate social media into the mix too, which should be fun. I plan to keep you informed, as usual.


Before I went to the cafe however, I took a walk in an interesting neighborhood, and of course I took some pictures. In the style of K. Miller's blog feature, Caturday, I took this intrepid cat's photo as he/she sat on the roof of an empty house.

Isn't this view of the street gorgeous?
Another house owner had this sitting out at the end of the walkway. I wonder how often she has to refill the snack container?
I just thought this house was so cute; one of the coolest things about this neighborhood was the diversity of housing styles. Definitely not a cookie cutter development.
I've been noticing structures like this detached garage lately, as I wish for a studio of sorts. Wouldn't this one be grand? I can totally see myself using this as my creative space.

What are you planning these days?


Friday, August 10, 2012


I have been able to do a lot of reading this summer, to the detriment of my to-do list, but who cares? I've also read a lot of new-to-me blogs, which has led to lists of books to add to my list, which is a pretty nice state to find one's self in the summer. In my library pile right now are Let's Take The Long Way Home, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, and Wildflowers. All three books are nonfiction, which is a bit of a departure for me, and were recommendations from the Chinaberry catalog, a resource I used when my daughters were little. I also put six or seven other books on hold today, from various blog suggestions.

As usual, I am trying to cram in a lot in my last few two weeks of vacation. I know that I will be very busy this school year, trying to teach a different subject in a different school, so whatever I want to do for pleasure needs to be done in my remaining few two weeks. I also have several doctor and dentist appointments, and while they aren't categorized as pleasure by any means, they are necessary for maintenance. Speaking of maintenance, I got my hair done this week, and in addition to having red and blond highlights, I had a streak of blue put in, almost as a secret color. It's underneath and in the back, so it's not really visible unless I want it to be, but I like the idea of it. It's been a stressful summer, for one reason or another, and I think I wanted a little bit of fun in the form of hair color. Not the worst way to handle stress, is it?

I've also been keeping up with my wildlife area in the side yard; this is the new birdbath, being enjoyed by a few birds.


I also rigged up a corn feeder for the squirrels. This fella has stripped it clean.

Looks like dinner time here; I think it's so cute how many are perched around the rim. I replaced the corn cob, hoping to reduce the amount of feed the squirrel steals from the hanging bird feeders.

Have a great weekend!


Sunday, August 5, 2012


All righty, I made another summer meal, inspired by Dinner: A Love Story. Although only one of these dishes is from the cookbook, I still give all the credit to Jenny. The Black Bean and Avocado Salad recipe on the lower right of the photo is straight from the book, except I added an additional avocado, because I love them. I totally made up the Pasta and Pesto salad and it turned out to be a huge hit with Steve. My other made up salad was the Wheatberry, Craisins, and Apple Salad, with raspberry vinegar. It's almost dessert-like! And my falafel from the box is always a quick dinner, if you don't count the 40 minutes resting time before frying.

Doesn't this look summery? Lime juice helped a lot!

I think I could eat wheatberries every day.

I used pesto with just a touch of mayonnaise, and the stinky, fresh Parmesan cheese. This was Steve's favorite. As a matter of fact, he loved it so much that he took me out to a movie, which, if you knew my husband, is a grand gesture indeed. We saw The Intouchables, and if you can, go see it. It was an amazing story, based on true events, and unbelievably uplifting. (Although this review states otherwise. Guess I'm not informed enough?)

As for knitting, I'm on the decrease section of the Saroyan shawl, but I've been cranking out quite a few Double Bump washcloths here and there too. I should save them for Christmas, but I've either been using them myself, or giving them away to whomever is around when I finish one up!


I met with a former teammate this morning to begin planning for the school year. She's taking over my former position teaching science and wanted my input, and I picked her brain about the English curriculum, so it was a fair trade. I only have three weeks left and I'm hoping if I do a little planning, I can stop having the stress nightmares of being out of control of my classroom! Such is the nature of change. At least, for me.