September 2009

Monthly Archive

My first day…

Posted by on 29 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: education, grad school, Uncategorized

the new me

No alternate text on the above image, this is me this morning after only about 6 hours’ sleep (I was nervous all night). I am wearing a cool-nifty new shirt Mother got for me at Shopko. The falling leaves go around on the right side…

And class was fine. I like everyone, teachers and students. It will be interesting. Some things are overwhelming on this end, others seem deceptively manageable. A lot of the rest of the week will be spent just getting used to what is going on.

I may not be ready…

Posted by on 28 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: grad school, housework, Uncategorized

But the office is!

I am so happy that I managed to have not one, but TWO cleared spaces to work on. Both the workbench and the desk are now “good enough” for the moment.

You can see from the last shot that half the office is FAR from the way I want, but in my defense… I was lazy! About half the remaining boxes contain fabrics and craft/art supplies that I am still deciding whether to keep or toss. And easily half the clutter on the card table is papers that need going through when I am not feeling vulnerable. I have a hard time discarding “mementos” when feeling nostalgic.

So. Here for your viewing pleasure are the pics I JUST took of the office. I am so excited! I am going to school tomorrow!!!! First pic is looking through the door, the others are labeled.

through door

the workbench, the stack of papers on the right needs sorting, otherwise done!

the workbench, the stack of papers on the right needs sorting, otherwise done!

working part of the desk:  again the items on the wire shelf need final sorting, otherwise clean!

again the items on the wire shelf need final sorting, otherwise clean!

in the interest of full disclosure, there is actually open space in front of the window and under the card table.

in the interest of full disclosure, there is actually open space in front of the window and under the card table.

My last task is to figure out what to wear so I look tidy, but approachable… I am totally excited about tomorrow!

Quiet Day of Light and Shadow

Posted by on 28 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: children, education, Gardens and Life, good things, grad school, musings, parenting, Uncategorized

A week after the official start of autumn, and it’s cooler. Won’t get into the 70s today, and the sun keeps getting swept behind the clouds by the wind. It’s going to stay in the 40s at night and not get above the 60s much from this point on. I admit to some regrets that we didn’t settle in Hawaii sometimes. But the wetter weather that is on the horizon (literally, I can see the clouds coming) heralds one of the best times of year for me: harvest time, the turning of the year to a time of connection between past and future with the “now” at the fulcrum. A time to take stock of where we are in our lives and look at what we really want or ought to do.

I am taking it easy, my last day of freedom before my classes begin. I slept in, woke to listen to the radio and read email and news online. Played some of my favorite online games. Going to read for a while. Thinking about getting the rest of the workbench cleared off this afternoon… got the desk in working order last night.

I am ready for tomorrow, will check through everything one more time this evening, and put it in the car. Undecided what I should wear… will take some foods that I know to be safe since it’s an all-day retreat and I am always nervous when I don’t know what a kitchen staff is like. I might ask to drive in with Tom tomorrow — the retreat is near his office. A little time with the person who is being most affected by my time back in school. He is so patient and calm, a solid rock for my antics.

The children are off at school — so far they seem to be doing fine. Will know more in a couple weeks, once the full impact of the three college classes (a full load) hits the elder child. They are being good about pitching in with a few extra chores, and the house is not “clean” but livable again. We’ll keep working on it.

I helped several times at the younger child’s school last week, since it was lovely weather and I had the time. I will miss being there on a regular basis. But, I keep reminding myself that it’s okay for me to take these two years for myself, to learn and grow and get prepared for the second (third?) phase of my life.

Growing older doesn’t mean we have to stop learning, stop improving, or stop reaching for the rainbow.

As the sun casts longer shadows through the days, as the plants and animals get ready for hibernation, I wish you all the opportunity for rest, for reflection and for recreation. Don’t forget to play!

The turning of the season

Posted by on 21 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: citizenship, education, Family Matters, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, grad school, musings, Uncategorized

Last day of summer, first day of autumn, this is a bitter-sweet time of year for me. Usually (and this year was definitely the epitome) I had lovely plans for the summer which quickly filled up and became unmanageably busy. The two or three things I had longed for usually never happened, and the growing season passed by so fast that half the enjoyment of fresh fruits and veggies was lost in the rush to bake and preserve.

This year, I was overly busy with school, running kids back and forth, and working. I missed the blueberry season entirely. I missed the strawberry and raspberry seasons, too. I managed to can two batches of jam using the plums from our tree. I didn’t cut flowers once, for my own home or anyone else’s. I didn’t even manage to sit outside in the shade and read.

And I had little time to play or otherwise connect with and enjoy my family.

Those are my regrets for the season that is passing. The lack of connection is foremost.

For the upcoming season, I dearly hope that I will not have to ignore my children or my garden overmuch. I hope I will have time to play with the dog, even if it’s only a little time, each day. I hope that I will be able to rest, to dream, to cook and to sew.

I hope to revel in savory dishes, sipping hot cider as I study.

As we wend our way toward the thinning veil between this world and the next, I hope that I will honor my ancestors and inspire my descendants with brave, gracious and loving acts.

The waning light sees me contemplating whether I use it well — do I make the most of my available time?

Future generations will know.

The fun (and limitations) of technology

Posted by on 20 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: children, crosspost, education, fun, Gardens and Life, science, Uncategorized

I will go ahead and post this to the stidmama at LiveJournal blog as well.

So you can manipulate the pictures yourselves, I am going to load them as a gallery of thumbnails you can click on to see a bigger image. Use your back button to return here afterwards.

This is Jupiter, with the four moons clearly set in a line, two on each side!

The nittygritty of the last night’s astronomical adventure: We used our new Nikon Coolpix S230 10 Megapixel 3x zoom ISO 2000 with vibration reduction. I held it up to the eyepiece of the telescope with the flash off and no zoom; I did not speed up or slow down the shutter speed. This method works best when the eyepiece is more stationary… the telescope is a bit shaky because it’s portable so the camera shakes. Even with vibration reduction, when the magnification increases, it’s noticeable. The final picture in the set of three was taken with higher resolution lens on the telescope, and most of those images were too shaky — even with the relatively fast shutter speed of the camera, in some images Jupiter looked like a neon squiggle.

About the refraction telescope: It is a Telestar by Meade that we bought last year for the family. first lens: 25 mm; second lens: 2.5 mm. The increase in size made it much nicer to view with the eyes, but a lot harder to get a decent picture. It also makes it more challenging to aim the telescope (a task I left to the more adept teens). It’s a nice telescope for our purposes. And as you can see, we were quite excited to get four moons showing up so beautifully!

Finally, if you want to try this yourself. Jupiter seems to be “up” around 9 or 9:30 pm where we live, almost directly south (slightly south-east now). We took these pictures between 11 and 11:30 or so. I can’t tell you how far above the horizon because that’s not visible, but I can say it’s a couple degrees higher than the 100+ foot trees about 100 feet away on the neighbor’s property.

PINK highlights and “starting point” pics

Posted by on 13 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, housework, Uncategorized

I decided to play with the look of the site a little, it had been over a year. More changes to come, but I thought I would see how I like the fuschia pink for titles and links.

Here are a few pics of the house: the first three of the office, which you will see has not improved in the last few days and has had several more boxes brought in.

From the door, then looking left and then looking right. More clutter, less order, increasing frustration on my part. It will happen, I have two weeks…




Now a picture looking at the living room: the tux needs minor repair (today’s task), the box is being emptied as I work on this by the stidkid, the baskets of clean, folded laundry have been put away.


And here is the dining room. Since I took the picture, I have pushed the table up against the sideboard to make room to bring in more boxes from the back yard. I’ll post another picture of this room later, once everything is in.


Passages: Sam Hinton

Posted by on 11 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: caring, citizenship, editorial, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, Making a Difference, musings, passages, Politics and War, social justice, The Fallacies of 911, Uncategorized

Sam Hinton. The world will miss you.

Though I never had the chance to meet Sam personally, I grew up looking through a book he had written and illustrated on the sea life of the coast of California. I think we all grew up knowing some of his songs.

As an adult, I rediscovered him through his granddaughter who became a penpal, and have set a goal to learn how to play the harmonica, an instrument both my grandmothers played, as well as Sam. But he was far better than any of us!

Far better, not just with the harmonica. It seems Sam was one of those bright stars who light up the lives of everyone they encounter. He brought new awareness to the beauty and fragility of the oceans. He helped re-introduce folk songs to the United States, founding a local group where he lived. He genuinely cared for people, individually and collectively.

He was a good man.

Today, there are tributes to the insanity of war. I would much rather our nation and the world focused on those people and events that heal… people like Sam. People like the public school teachers who do so much with so little for our children. People like hospice volunteers, designated drivers who take their role seriously, emergency responders. People like street performers who play the fool or bring us beauty, people who dream of better things, and those who help us unite around common causes.

Today, let’s focus on the essence of being “American” — not our beliefs, our language, our politics; let’s focus on the American willingness to stick our necks out for strangers, to stand up to injustice, to speak our minds in the face of tyranny. Let’s focus on that wide-eyed optimism coupled with hard-earned skepticism that allows us to simultaneously be enthusiastic about new prospects while spotting the flaws in time to fix them. This, more than our affluence, our laws, our governmental structures, makes Americans unique.

[Side note for my friends in other places: how do your countries’ traditions and legends inform your sense of self? What are the qualities that make your people unique and ready to set the world to rights? In other words, how would you define your positive national identity?]

Let’s look at what has gone wrong in the last decade, and the reasons for failure, and let’s do the right thing: fix the problem, and get on with our lives.

We don’t need to dwell on the horribleness of everything in order to pay tribute to the brave and innocent who lose their lives in tragedies. We can focus on the gifts they brought to the world and help realize their vision.

Rather than focusing on the gap Sam leaves behind as he exchanges one existence for another, I am going to focus on the ways he enriched the world, and how I can emulate him to the best of my ability. I think, if the world had more Sams in it, there would be fewer 9/11s.

First day of school 2009

Posted by on 09 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: children, education, Family Matters, good things, Uncategorized

First the elder child — didn’t realize the flash wasn’t flashing until long after he was off to school. I tried to adjust the colors to be less dismal. Hope you can see his “aussie” fashion statement!


And then the younger, looking dapper and nonchalant. The flash worked on this one, but the pic is still a bit blurry. Oh well… Note that Tom is included for scale!


Both survived day one, seem to be ready to go again tomorrow (always a good sign). I survived too — I didn’t empty any boxes or go shopping, but I made soup, did laundry and dishes, and FINALLY got my nap!

Office Update Take Three

Posted by on 07 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, housework, Uncategorized

As I have time, I am going to clutter up the internet with pics of my sad office plight. I made good (for me) progress today, emptying at least 7 boxes, maybe as many as ten. It all starts to run together….

Here are three pics, again the first is looking through the door into the room, and you can see a bit more floor space, as well as some of the boxes now empty and outside the room.


The second pic is of the window wall — note that now we can see Tom’s chair, which had been hidden behind my chair. And some floor space.


The third pic is of my workbench and desk, piled high with seemingly random items, but they are actually sorted by ultimate destination. Also note my chair still with yellow jacket on the back hidden behind my tall working stool. It has one box on it, mostly just waiting for time to sort. The items belong on or near my desk.


In sorting through boxes today I found some items from my deceased grandmother, including some cats-eye glasses she wore in the 1960s. I have pictures of her wearing them and holding me as an infant. The memories that come flooding back when I run across items like this are truly priceless.

Office Saga

Posted by on 06 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, housework, Uncategorized

It seems that I regularly go through phases where one room or another deserves (or needs, and at the very least wants) a makeover. Well, for the last couple of years, since the first skylight developed a leak and was quickly repaired, the office has been all-but unusable while I waited for wallboard to be installed and such. This summer’s visitor spurred us into action and although not all the trim got up and the texturing really needs to be redone throughout, the paint and furnishings are now acceptable. And no more leaks from the roof or drafts from the walls. And the boxes that once filled the space front to back and nearly as tall as me, were moved out.
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