Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Checking In with Good News

I have brought my school bag home every day this week, but instead of grading papers, I merely take it back to school and continue to add more papers to it. And instead of working on it tonight, I decided to finish reading Heather Ross' book, How to Catch a Frog. The book was lovely, if a little heartbreakingly sad at times. I had picked it up yesterday morning, right after an appointment to recheck my blood pressure, and was so eager to start reading it that I took my Honors block to the library, had them check out a book, and gave them a block of reading time so that I, too, could read. The block ended much too quickly.

My dad has been recovering from his surgery at an amazing rate and is in a rehab section of the hospital now. He is being discharged on Saturday and he's anxious to get home. I've been visiting him for 30 minutes in the morning on my way to work, and then stopping in for an hour or two after work, on my way home. Today was the first day I skipped the afternoon visit and that was because I was feeling a little under the weather this afternoon. I'm sure it's because of all the extra time I've been away from home since last Friday, so tonight is an early to bed night for me. Gracie curled up against my knee as soon as I sat down on the couch; guess she misses me.

Saturday night, after I left the hospital, I stopped in at a new place called Toast to eat a quick dinner. I sat at the bar and had a delicious meal of thickly sliced homemade bread, topped with an over-easy egg on broiled smoked cheddar cheese. The perfect comfort food. The photo collage around this light fixture is just one of the many cute ways this place is decorated.

Another night this week, I sautéed more of our asparagus, along with green onions and mushrooms, and when they were almost done, added a bunch of sundried tomatoes. I fried an egg to put on top of it all and ate another comfort food dinner.

That was the same night I walked to the beach and knit for an hour, to help decompress. It was a good night.

Another piece of good news is my trip to New York in two weeks, to see my oldest daughter graduate with her Masters degree! I'm so excited that I get to see her, not to mention how proud I am of her. The ceremony will be held at Madison Square Garden on May 15. I've rented another AirBnB place, two subway stops away from her, so she isn't too stressed about having company crowding in their little place prior to her ceremony. Using AirBnB has been a great way to explore more of Brooklyn on my visits, as each little neighborhood has its own vibe. As usual, I will take and share lots of photos.

Hope you have a good weekend; I'm hoping to finish up the shawl that I've been neglecting so I can start something new! What are your plans for the weekend?





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.