Family Matters

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Important Dates in our Lives

Posted by on 23 Feb 2016 | Tagged as: celebrations, children, Family Matters, fun, Gardens and Life, good things, Uncategorized

Today is the 21st anniversary of the day our older son became a big brother.

He was so proud of his little brother!

Here is a pic of the birthday boy and his big brother the day after he was born…

Feb 1995

Feb 1995

When he was about 3 or 4, he LOVED that Snowman toy!

Grant and his Snowman toy, off on an adventure in the back yard.

Grant and his Snowman toy, off on an adventure in the back yard.

When they were about 6…

Thurston County Fair, possibly 2001?

Thurston County Fair, possibly 2001?

I am so proud of my sons.

And today, I am beyond-proud to be the parent of two full-fledged (in the eyes of the law) adults!

And one more, of a proud mama and her son, probably taken in 2002.

Walking at the Nisqually Delta, a favorite jaunt in those days.

Walking at the Nisqually Delta, a favorite jaunt in those days.

Happy Birthday, Grant.

Too quiet (delayed post from June 2014)

Posted by on 15 Feb 2016 | Tagged as: Family Matters, Gardens and Life, house building, housefire, Uncategorized

I have been “silent” for many months, working very hard at school and just trying to keep ahead of the work. I love my students, and spend most of my energy on them during the school year. It’s hard to keep that “work-life” balance sometimes. But as things calm down and become more predictable I find small moments when I have both time and energy again.

Here is a musing from quite a while back:

When the house is clean
And the kitchen is tidied
The outside beckons

Too late the weeding
the mowing
the tending
the sowing

Too late the gentle breeze
before the storm

The children are gone
from my arms
from my time

We built and built again
a home

And alone
I work quietly
alone

Wait for a reason
To put joy
on the walls
in the halls
for the

[originally written 23 June 2014, mid-afternoon]

I stopped writing the poem at that point — what did I have in mind? We had only moved “home” about three weeks earlier. I was again temporarily jobless and simultaneously trying to find the “must have” items from the boxes that had come from the apartment, the “cleaners” and the storage locker; while sorting out the items that I wished I could keep but were no longer worth keeping even for sentimental value. I was trying to find and reestablish the garden again after more than a year “away” — so much doesn’t get done when you don’t live on site! I was trying to make some decorating decisions which I quickly gave up — no money even if I had the heart. Tom was working full-time, Grant was working full-time, Matthew lived elsewhere. I was ALL ALONE. No companions of any kind except my grief and longing.

I still deal with the feelings of loss, I still am absolutely, devastatedly, achingly lonely when I am at home with no one around, no one to care for. I have a precious few hours with Tom each week, usually on the weekends; fewer with Grant who very much wants to earn enough and save up enough to leave home. The rest of the time, if I am home, I am alone.

And this loss — the loss of security and home, the loss of heritage in the artifacts that perished outright or turned out too badly damaged to keep — this loss is relatively small compared to the losses we witness daily around the world.

It’s part of the human condition, it hurts, and it does not abate. Yes, there is still joy, and yes, I look forward to each new day and the seasons that are changing. But like many types of grief, this one is now an enduring, permanent feature of my life. I treasure moments with the people I love more now, I think, than I used to — always with a sense of longing as I remember that these moments do not last.

As I finish this post on February 15, 2016, the little waq’waq’ is singing by the fish pond. A casserole is in the oven, Tom’s pumpkin pie is cooling on the counter, his bread in other oven perfuming the air. Grant will be home in a few hours and will sit with us and watch a little TV before I give in to my sleep schedule and leave the two “menfolk” to hang out for a little while longer. Life IS good. There is much to look forward to.

Hanging on to each precious moment with the people I love.

Also worked in the garden, but…

Posted by on 01 Jun 2015 | Tagged as: Family Matters, fun, Gardens and Life, good things, music, percussion, Uncategorized

here is the main event from the weekend.

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Snippets

Posted by on 23 Dec 2014 | Tagged as: Family Matters, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, house building, Uncategorized

I am trying, during my two-week (16 days!) break this year to get ahead on a few household tasks as well as spend some time just doing the artsy-craftsy-teachery things I enjoy. The teacher-tasks are waiting until Thursday afternoon, when I will enjoy sitting down while watching football or movies and going through scope and sequence for the rest of the grading period. The artsy-craftsy tasks are mostly waiting until I have my office in better shape.

The house is already cleaner and better organized than it has been since just after we moved in. I keep hoping for that “Open House” but now I think it is going to wait until Spring break… It’s all “baby steps” for now while I try to finish the last organizational and decorating tasks and wait for the funds for additional enhancements.

Here is something Grant helped me put up today:

A gift from Mother (one of two limited-edition ornaments) this year.

A gift from Mother (one of two limited-edition ornaments) this year.

This is a “completed” task (but need to clean the windows properly before taking more pics).

Here is a “before” shot of the desk in my office/studio. At the time of writing, the surface is clear, but the shelving isn’t yet properly mounted. This is one of several tasks I have been needing to attend to for several months, and one that is finally going to get done!

The desk is three feet deep and five feet wide.  The surface in this picture is covered in months of additions waiting for their homes.  Some of them belong on the shelves that are about to be mounted above, others will go in files in the cabinet to the left.  The small set of drawers and the sewing machine under the window have already been moved out, increasing the floor space by over 8 square feet!

The desk is three feet deep and five feet wide. The surface in this picture is covered in months of additions waiting for their homes. Some of them belong on the shelves that are about to be mounted above, others will go in files in the cabinet to the left. The small set of drawers and the sewing machine under the window have already been moved out, increasing the floor space by over 8 square feet!

The house is definitely looking lived-in… now the trick is going to be getting the last remnants of construction and the last bits of demolition debris removed before Spring. Planting time is coming soon and the ground is not yet prepared. I will be putting some bulbs in pots this week, and the rest…

There is always another season, another year, another project. Here’s to seeing what 2015 will bring!

The classroom after an actual MONTH

Posted by on 02 Oct 2014 | Tagged as: 3rd Grade, 3rd grade, broken bones, children, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

This is how I left the room today, set up for a sub who gets to do the “fun stuff” with the kiddos. 🙂 I try to keep a few tricks up my sleeve just in case, and today it was necessary to pull a few of them out.

Tomorrow, Grant has a surgery to repair a hand damaged at work earlier in the week. Should be an “easy” fix and he should be fine, but just in case I thought I should be there.

So I took a few pics of the classroom. Here are a couple. I am not commenting on them individually since they are relatively standard schoolroom pics, but the room is looking more and more lived in. The large leaves hanging from the ceiling are felt. I got them at a local large kitchen and bath store, and they have really made the room feel less cavernous.
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Memories

Posted by on 14 Sep 2014 | Tagged as: Family Matters, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, house building, housefire, loss, Uncategorized

A year and a half ago this evening, I was planning the pizza party for the class that had “most improved” in behavior and academics; and deciding to have cookies and juice for the other classes, who had been working very hard as well.

Tomorrow will be the 18 month anniversary of the last day of that grading period, the day that I entered in all the data I had and started making comments in the evening so parents would know how their kids were doing in school. That was a Friday. I was so looking forward to the weekend, to the following two weeks (right before spring break). The weather was lovely and we were able to take Lucky out nearly every evening for a walk. I had plans for the garden, for the house, for figuring out where I was going after the break (when my long-term sub position would end).

I liked my home, my cluttered corner where I planned lessons, read books and watched TV. I loved my purple and yellow and green bedroom with the basketry light fixture over the four-poster bed and the walls of books…

I loved the times we spent cooking in the cramped kitchen, eating at the linoleum-topped table, playing games.

I walked the gardens daily. I knew the plants, the animals, the sunrises and sunsets. Predictable, but ever-changing.

On Thursday, it will be a year and a half since all of that was taken from us, the bright Monday afternoon that home was lost and we learned the true meaning of neighborliness and friendship. A year and a half since we ended up in a hotel without a clean change of clothes, or toothpaste or even a hairbrush. A year and a half … that feels sometimes like yesterday and sometimes like a completely different world.

We have been back on the land, in a new house, since the first of June.

I still sometimes feel out of place, not sure where I am.

I don’t yet walk the gardens daily, too many things perished while we were gone.

I don’t yet have a handle on everything that is lost, because there are still boxes to go through. Every box holds memories…

Every memory I have to let go because the papers or fabrics are too damaged (and toxic) to keep hurts. It goes slowly.

And yet, a year and a half of new memories are already built. The picture of Grant and his girlfriend’s senior prom is clipped to my lampshade next to my new corner where I plan lessons, read books and watch TV, and think about maybe tidying up someday…

Once again, Tom cooks in the kitchen, this time a more spacious and workable space, with a separate area for the table where we eat and play games.

This autumn we will plant bulbs, tubers and corms in the back yard, reclaiming the ground that was damaged by construction for a pleasant view that doesn’t need mowing.

This winter, we will sit in front of the fireplace when it rains (or snows), something brand new for us.

And in another nine months, we will have been back almost as long as we were away, and I hope we will finally feel home again.

For now, the memories still invade at inopportune moments, and I have to catch myself and figure on which side of the memory I stand…

This loss hasn’t been the hardest we have faced, but it has been very difficult. Recovering from something like this … never easy. But recover we do, and every day a little more falls into place. Every day, the new memories are stronger and the painful memories are easier to bear.

Bedroom and Office spaces

Posted by on 22 Jun 2014 | Tagged as: Family Matters, good things, house building, Uncategorized

We are getting things put in place. I spent most of the last couple days on either the bedroom/closets or my office. We also tidied up the great room/kitchen a bit more. Here is an update.

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Today in the garden

Posted by on 14 Oct 2013 | Tagged as: children, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, good things, house building, seasons, Uncategorized

The garden holds so many lovely things in the autumn.

A view of the blueberry plant that is under the bigger chestnut tree:

Yes, the bright red leaves are the blueberry!  It was LOADED this year, but the birds got them.  Next year...

Yes, the bright red leaves are the blueberry! It was LOADED this year, but the birds got them. Next year…

This is a detail of the fennel — the darker sections are completely done, the greener sections have a lovely, brighter flavor. I’ll harvest some soon to make sausage with them.

Dark brown, and bright green umbrels of the fennel plant.  They look like little fireworks, celebrating the harvest season.

Dark brown, and bright green umbrels of the fennel plant. They look like little fireworks, celebrating the harvest season.

And the big news… looking “through” two walls (I was technically standing in Grant’s room when I took this) and the French door out my bed window!

20131014_161552

And Grant, standing next to the wall of HIS bedroom, just to the right of the window that looks out over the quince tree (temporarily on its side…).

Grant, for scale.  He is about 6 feet tall.  His room will be 12 feet deep and 17 feet long...  not HUGE, but actually slightly bigger than the current room in the apartment.

Grant, for scale. He is about 6 feet tall. His room will be 12 feet deep and 17 feet long… not HUGE, but actually slightly bigger than the current room in the apartment.

Okay, walls need a little more “filling in.” But, progress! And a stack of lumber to add on top of the sill.

And a week of dry, sunny days to help the construction team.

Teasers…

Posted by on 21 Sep 2013 | Tagged as: children, environment, Family Matters, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, house building, parenting, seasons, Uncategorized

Yesterday, it was raining rather hard by the time we got to the house in the evening. So, no pictures to accompany this post But…

There is progress. The wooden forms that used to hold the concrete in place are removed. Jeff, the concrete man, has scored the concrete (expansion joints to prevent random cracks as the material flexes through temperature changes), and put a sign up: Please do not walk on cement.

The fennel plant is finishing its bloom cycle for the year and the seeds are almost ready to harvest. I use fennel seed to make home-made sausage and other things, and sometimes just to nibble on. So although this can be a highly invasive plant, for me only one plant has survived over about 8 years and has never propagated as far as I know. I didn’t walk in our garden-garden yesterday (I was wearing my school clothes), but the orchard looks amazing. The Asian pear with the soft-ball sized fruit is finally (two years later) sending up a new leader, so I will prune back lower branches this autumn once the leaves are down.

Matthew is now up at Western Washington University, a college junior living in the dorms for the first time. It will be a good learning experience for him. We are hoping he will be able to focus on his studies. Next quarter, hopefully, my income will be enough to help supplement his financial aid. He is (I think) looking for work-study, and hopefully isn’t rejecting the kinds of tasks I did in college because the “don’t pay enough.” I wonder, when did I manage to teach my children that no job (earning absolutely nothing) is preferable to a job with low wages (earning something and building a reference for an even better job)?

Grant is looking forward to starting his college classes on Monday. I hope he has everything ready… I wish in so many ways that I were able to drop him off for his first day, but I know he’ll be fine. He’s a great kid. He needs to apply for jobs, but there is a job fair this coming week at the mall near our home, and perhaps he will find something there.

We’ll see. It is the time of the autumnal equinox, and the weather is definitely autumnal. We should get a nice big rainstorm over the next couple of days, and I will start thinking about apple pie filling and hot mulled cider and other delicacies. The wheel of the year is turning, and the six months since the fire are behind us. A few more months, a couple more seasons, and we should again be home on the land we have cultivated and loved for so long.

A full week teaching!

Posted by on 15 Sep 2013 | Tagged as: children, education, Education Professional, Family Matters, fun, Gardens and Life, good things, house building, Kid Activities, seasons, teaching, Uncategorized

I am still having pretty much the time of my life with the 7th and 8th graders I get to work with. There are plenty of things that are confusing, but I have so much support that I only have to ask a question (or if I have to fix things retroactively) and I get all the help I need. It’s a wonderful “nursery” for a new teacher.

And the students I have are quirky, interesting, energetic, and good-hearted. I have really lucked out with this assignment. Although I have a “full house” in my Language Arts class (30 students! – no room for more desks) I am having so much fun learning about them, thinking of ways to help them and challenge them, and I wake up smiling (most days) just thinking about going in.

And I go in earlier than I have to, most days — I don’t officially have kids until 4th period and could put off going in until partway through 3rd period — but as a morning person anyway I get up with Tom and go in early. So I am there early enough in the morning that I can see some of the other teachers (I catch one mentor-type at 1st period planning and another mentor-type at 2nd period) and then get a tutorial on anything I want help with for my students by sitting in on a master teacher’s 3rd period… (I get the room immediately after her kids leave).

It’s like a nice, soft cocoon where I can grow the wings I need for my next teaching assignment.

This week, we do some benchmark testing, establish regular routines and talk a little bit about setting personal goals for literacy. I am going to try a modified model akin to that of the “Two Sisters” whose workshop I attended in June. It won’t be as smooth or elegant as their approach, but I already see how I can incorporate some of their ideas in the well-rounded curriculum already established in this school.

And Matthew starts at Western this week (moves in to the dorms) and both boys start their classes in another week (Matthew as a junior, Grant as a freshman (H.S. senior)). Tom goes off to a college reunion in Walla Walla at the end of that week. I will be pretty busy by then just trying to keep up with my workload.

And then, of course, the house…

Buckle up, folks, it’s going to be a fast, fun year!

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