November 2012

Monthly Archive

What really matters

Posted by on 24 Nov 2012 | Tagged as: editorial, Family Matters, friends, Gardens and Life, good things, Making a Difference, musings, Uncategorized

I started this month with every intention of making my goal of 50,000 words for the NaNoWriMo challenge this year. But between working, the conference and this last week when I really couldn’t write, I know I won’t make that goal.

And it’s okay. I made it almost to 18,000 words, which would be a reasonable amount most months. Here is a small graphic that shows how close I got to my goal:

They aren’t good words, the story doesn’t hang together and it’s not worth revisiting. I posted the writing I did as PDFs, but rather than linking to it here, I will tell you it’s under the Fun category, subcategory Literary Pursuits. If you choose to visit it… ye have been warned! (insert pirate laugh) And so I am letting go of this goal. I can try again next year, perhaps my mind will be more clear and I will be less distracted and distractible.

I went to the National Council for the Social Studies convention in Seattle last weekend. It was everything I had hoped for, and then some. I had to make some tough choices about what sessions to attend and what sessions I should hope to hear about later. I intended to go to a naturalization ceremony that was presided over by the amazing Sandra Day O’Connor, but I was so miserable with allergies that I decided to take some antihistamine and wander around the exhibitors’ hall. I was sad to not see one of my heros even from a distance, but it was better to rest and take care of myself than to push.

Because I followed my intuition, I met several people I would have missed otherwise, and a wonderful man, Dr. Mark C. Schug, and I had a nice conversation about his book Economic Episodes in American History. I like the innovative approach. Viewing history through economic decision-making allows students a lens to think about how their own decisions affect their lives — future lives, as well as present — and to see how other people have chosen in similar situations.

I also met Susan Austin, who gave me a copy of her book, The Bamboo Garden. A fun, easy-to-read novel I am enjoying reading it slowly when I am in the car waiting for kids. It is set in a time that we don’t often think about, and the painterly descriptions of people and places are marvelous. I am thinking about how I would use this book to teach intermediate-grades empathy as well as descriptive writing (something that I enjoy helping students learn).

I had intended to read voraciously this past week and this weekend, all the materials I obtained at the convention. But my eyes, which struggled so much in grad school, decided to hit me again. Between all the reading I was doing of materials that are not printed at a size that works for my eye defects, the dry air of the convention center, the antihistamines and sheer exhaustion I have barely scratched the surface.

So I am letting go… the materials will be here on the days I don’t work, I will have plenty of time to read over the two weeks of winter break and on the inevitable snow days this winter.

The garden is in decent shape, though already I have lost a few plants that should have been brought inside earlier. We have pruned two trees, and vacuumed out the cars today. We didn’t dig up the dahlias, and we didn’t move all the gardening equipment down to the wellhouse yet. It will happen, and the garden next year will be a lot quicker to start and a lot easier to maintain.

It is hard to let go, to realize that it’s okay to not get to everything. It is hard to choose which single thing should be done today, this moment, and which will simply have to wait until time, energy, opportunity or money allow.

I had a lovely conversation with a friend on the phone this evening. We could have talked for hours, but we talked about mostly one thing, and then let the rest go until another time.

I have been thinking about the loss of my dear friend, Hetty, earlier this month. When I saw her last time, I promised that “next time” we would play scrabble… and next time won’t happen. I won’t get another chance to see Sandra Day O’Connor, either. I won’t have another chance to attend the workshop that was titled “Teach Like a Pirate” (I heard later that it was excellent). And I won’t be able to bring back the dozens of dahlias that disappeared over the last many years.

But in the time that I have had, I have made progress. When I was with Hetty, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. And when I attend a different convention someday I will have other opportunities.

What really matters, in the end, is not what we intend to do, or what we didn’t do — what matters in the end is what we are doing in this moment.

What really matters, is being present to what we are able to do, right here, right now.

What really matters?


Posted by on 06 Nov 2012 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, passages, Uncategorized

flowers for hetty -- couldn't take them physically to Canada, but here they are, bright and cheerful, reminding me of you

I read of your passing
my friend

who wrote elegant, eloquent prose
and simple, evocative verse
my friend

you taught me to believe
I could reach for my dreams
believe I could also achieve
my heart’s desire
my friend

telling your story with grace and humor
sharing a meal
or two
and a laugh
and a sigh
my friend

that last brief smile
one more hug

and you are gone
my friend

you are gone

What crows think about the elections…

Posted by on 05 Nov 2012 | Tagged as: birds, environment, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

I heard a commotion outside today while I was working on my NaNo story.

I found a huge colony of crows flying into my yard and the yards around me, raising a ruckus.

The video is shaky, but you can see a little bit of the crows moving about. More importantly, there are a couple of places where you can HEAR them!

They certainly have their opinions…

And yes, I marked my ballot, deposited it on Sunday, and checked today to be sure it is at the elections department. Now I can teach tomorrow and ignore the news until polls close!

November Notes

Posted by on 05 Nov 2012 | Tagged as: children, citizenship, Gardens and Life, good things, NaNoWriMo, poverty, social justice, teaching, Uncategorized

I don’t have a lot of energy to write at the moment. I taught six consecutive school days in a high school classroom, which was a lot of fun, but tiring. Different type of environment, and I spent a lot of energy helping the kids stay on task. And then, of course, I caught the virus they were sharing… and spent the weekend feeling pretty miserable. Better enough last night to get to Grant’s first SOGO concert of the year, and enjoyed myself.

Feeling good enough to get a start on the NaNo novel, not a good start, I had to spend a rather large chunk of writing and time wandering around before a good story began to gel. But now I am thinking it isn’t really meeting my need as an author. Second-guessing! Not a good trait…

What follows becomes a bit political in tone, fair warning that I am not advocating for any party or person, just expressing my concerns that people who could vote, don’t!

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