Gardens and Life

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Summer finally begins for me

Posted by on 16 Jul 2016 | Tagged as: allergy, friends, fun, Gardens and Life, good things, health, seasons, Uncategorized

I was still recovering from the allergic reaction into the middle of the first week of July. Not fun. But had energy to have a nice dinner for my parents on Sunday the third, which of course wiped me out for the next couple of days.

Then, on July 7 I had a chance to meet up with a friend from New Zealand — it was a very spontaneous visit, so we didn’t have as much time as I would have liked. But … so glad we were able to finally gives in-person hugs instead of virtual!

On July 8 we had a silk painting session at my house. LOVED it. My friends are such amazing artists. Planning another session next month.

But I pushed myself a little too hard… the following weekend was unproductive, and it wasn’t until Wednesday that I started to have some energy again. Managed to get cars swapped around so one of them could have service done. Then I figured out some ideas for school and dug in on Thursday and Friday with some thinking and planning. Not a lot of organizing going on in the physical world, but a good bit happening with setting up ideas and lessons. AND I pruned a few trees and shrubs…

And I still have a reasonable five weeks of vacation to look forward to. I am glad. I will need every minute to be ready for the upcoming school year.

Added Accountability

Posted by on 27 Jun 2016 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, housework, Uncategorized

I have been working through this face reaction (I don’t think I have ever felt so un-lovely!) for four days now. Every morning is a bit better, and no additional symptoms, so I am going to work today on organizing some of my office (if Grant, who stayed home ill feels better in the afternoon he can help secure the last important piece for my standing desk. I am also determined to sort some boxes I brought home from school.

And, sometimes it helps me stay on track when I am able to note progress on my blog. No deadlines… it’s summer vacation — and I am still not 100%. But, sort through boxes, upholster the seat cushion for the stool that belongs in my office (the original cushion needs replacing from the fire). And do a little more lesson planning and organization of online files. I reproducing my files from this machine in my school googleapps account so that I have some flexibility when working — work directly in google for some things, but also still using Word and Excel because the functionality in googleapps isn’t quite where I need it to be.

Organizing…. it will help me make it through this next school year!

On a lighter note…

Posted by on 25 Jun 2016 | Tagged as: fun, Gardens and Life, mid-life crisis, Uncategorized

I am slowly getting a few things in place, and I have only been “at home” for about 4 days since school let out. I have now officially been playing the drums for a year and a half, and decided since I definitely enjoy it that I might as well bite the bullet and spring for better equipment. Today, Tom and I were able to put up the pegboard we bought a few weeks ago and I arranged my new drum set (also new cymbals!) and accoutrements in the corner of our bedroom.

finally I can put my instruments at arms length

finally I can put my instruments at arms length

Next steps include figuring out a way to better muffle the sounds of practicing until I am good enough that people can enjoy listening…

Grant’s senior project

Posted by on 24 Jun 2016 | Tagged as: children, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, house building, Kid Activities, Uncategorized

How did I manage to NOT post this in May 2014? It is rather badly overgrown now, but the patio is one of my favorite places to sit and read, or work, this time of year.


Grant had to shift gears mid-year about his senior project. He came up with a really great idea: fix up the front yard that got trashed this last year from neglect and construction.

Fish pond and lilacs, after weeding but before planting new annuals.

Fish pond and lilacs, after weeding but before planting new annuals.

He has “roped in” a couple of friends occasionally to help — Thanks Mady, Gabe, Jake and Tabitha!

Here is the progress he has made so far, pics are a little rough, but I am trying to get caught up on blogging this weekend and no time for a lot of fine-tuning.

I am actually going to post these in a gallery, with no commentary to save myself time and actually get this up (started it yesterday, here 24 hours later sitting down to finish…).


I didn’t finish the post then, either. And now I cannot find where the pictures are that I took… so this will have to be enough for now.

Random Musings on my Day

Posted by on 03 May 2016 | Tagged as: 3rd Grade, 3rd grade, children, education, Education Professional, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, musings, seasons, Uncategorized

Living
is hard work.
It is better than the alternative?
The answer is: Yes, when you are there.


That curious moment in the day when the gray skies pick up the bright green of new life and suffuse creation with an immortal glow.


Success! The fledgling
finds his wings
and starts to fly.


What is better than a happy third grader?
TWENTY happy third graders!
It was a very good day for learning.

What’s Wrong World-wise… Political content (another delayed post, from 4 October 2007)

Posted by on 28 Feb 2016 | Tagged as: citizenship, editorial, Gardens and Life, hope, politics, Politics and War, Uncategorized

or world-dumb, I suppose.

disclaimer: What follows is purely my opinion, based on personal experience and reflection, but hey! it seems to work for me and mine.

  • The most important thing that may be wrong is impatience. People are impatient to grow up, to make money, to “get there” and forget to enjoy the process. My children have a relatively comfortable home, plenty to eat and lots of leisure time in between a couple of activities of their own choosing. Still, they are eager to grow up, to achieve the milestones… at their age, this youthful exuberance is appropriate. But in a parent, to be eager for them to grow faster, to finish school early, to get a high-paying job early devalues the things that make the rest important: the people, the time you spend with them, the memories you build. Gardening teaches that one cannot rush the plants — they grow and produce in their own time. Actually, parenting teaches the same thing!
  • The next problem is forgetting that what works for one person or family may not be the right thing for another. For example, whether or not we liked it, my inability to work for several years meant we survived on one income past the point we had intended. It may have been the better choice in the long run anyway, as it meant I was instantly available to the children all these years. But for another person whose career couldn’t be dropped or picked up again so easily (I am changing my focus anyway, so don’t have to worry about picking up again where I left off) that might have been devastating. Or, for a family without a spouse who was earning ‘just enough’ or who didn’t have doting grandparents to help supply a few extras, the loss of the second income (even if it had been part-time) could have meant losing the home. Gardening also teaches that the sunflowers next door will invariably bloom sooner than mine, despite my placing seeds in the best location and tending them daily. Is it my soil? The microclimate? But my blueberries are invariably sweeter than those next door…
  • A lack of charity really goes hand in hand with the above: I have heard, many times and from people in many walks of life, that anyone ought to be able to improve their lives, that other people shouldn’t have to take up the slack when people won’t “do” for themselves. But they forget, I think, that a) not everyone has the same health/strength levels; b) even in the most hard-working/successful lives sometimes things “just work out” or they are lucky… and sometimes they don’t; c) most successful people can point to someone in their past who supported them financially or otherwise to get them over rough spots; and d) it is no longer possible for many people to support themselves on their own land — most people now live in cities and hold title to neither their living spaces nor the means to be industrious. We do not all start out with the means and the ability to improve our lives without assistance. Gardening is nearly impossible without a bit of soil and the right exposure: a devoted adult in an apartment without a balcony cannot grow the same varieties and abundance as a child with muddy feet in the middle of half an acre.
  • Laughter. People take themselves too damn seriously. What is wrong with cracking a good-natured joke now and then? Laughing at a pun? Being silly in public? Our children don’t see us playing, joking around, enjoying life. Maybe they should. My garden plays its own tricks on me, sending up potatoes underneath the tomatoes though it was years since I grew taters there… and not producing potatoes at all in the proper bed! If we are too insistent on having everything “just so” and only doing things that are serious, we miss
  • The next two items are new, 28 February 2016
  • Responsibility. It is difficult to “adult” — a new concept that has been floating around the social media world. I go to school almost every day, even when I am ill — I have had only a couple of sick days in the two years I have been at my current assignment, one for my son’s emergency hand surgery, two this year for an asthma attack and the flu. Might need another one this week (tomorrow) for a virus that I seem to have acquired, but if it feels like “only” a cold of course I will go in! This is in contrast to people who don’t have sick leave and so must go in to work or lose their jobs (at best, they lose the pay for the days they don’t show up). This is in contrast to people who find ways to claim what is called “workmen’s comp” when they might otherwise be able to work. I have the option when I am ill to stay home, but out of responsibility for these precious children I teach I go in unless driving is unsafe or I am contagious! A cold virus… one that I caught at school? I go in!
  • Diversity. One could call this openness to the beauty of the differences between people and groups. As I write this, it is an election year. The outgoing president, Barack Obama, has been the first truly “minority” president of our nation. The son of an immigrant and a native-born American mother, born in what would become the state of Hawaii, he also lived outside the U.S. as a child when his mother married a new husband who came from Indonesia. He married a remarkable woman, the child of working-class parents. He and his wife both graduated from college, going on the recieve degrees in law. An amazing, wonderful example of what hard work (and some luck) can do for people in this amazing nation that is based on the rights of all to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” A land where a Bill of Rights further enumerates Freedom of Speech, of Religion and of the Press, among others. No test of faith/belief may be applied to candidates or those elected to public office (which includes teachers…). No natural born citizen may be denied their rights on the basis of anything other than a conviction. And so on.
       
    However, this year… several candidates for the presidency are doing solid imitations of Hitler in the decade or so preceeding Kristallnacht. Rhetoric is flowing freely about people who are adherents of Islam; people who come from specific nationalities; people who are different. And I ask myself: what ever happened to the idea that our nation is strong because of (rather than in spite of) the great diversity of experiences that leads to wide-ranging ideas that lead to innovations and a better world? A nation that begins to criminalize existence rather than actions is on the path to genocide. We need courage to embrace, rather than reject, our neighbors and their families. We have survived segregation, interning families in camps based on their ancestry, and hysterically denying employment to people based on (their constitutionally guaranteed right to) political opinions/affiliations and sexual history. We cannot forget these lessons.

I would finish this post today as a call for renewed commitment to service, to understanding, to doing what is necessary to improve the world; to reject the calls for secularism, for isolationism; to protect the most vulnerable among us including children, isolated elders, people with disabling conditions that require extra support; and so on.

Rather than give in to fear (and there is a lot going on in the world that is out of our control!), we can instead remember the lessons of our past, and pull ourselves together. We need to stand together in opposition to those forces that would divide us. We need to be stronger and braver than the pundits who proclaim immigrants as enemies and other religions as subversive.

I cannot solve the problems of the world, but I am just enough of an optimist to think that we can solve the problems of our nation. We can solve them through understanding, optimism, and the same spirit of ingenuity that is a hallmark of “Americans.” True patriotism will not turn its back on the proud heritage of inclusiveness. True patriotism will admit that past actions that deprived individuals of their rights in the absence of criminal activity on their part was not just wrong, it was unconstitutional and should not be repeated. True patriotism in our country recognizes that together we are stronger, braver, smarter, and better than when we isolate and cut off those who are different in selfish and cowardly attempts to protect ourselves from imagined threats. We grow when we take risks, we diminish when we don’t. Pretty simple.

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.

New Year 2016

Posted by on 17 Jan 2016 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

Still here, but not posting much. Here, in random order and with no attention to paragraphs, sentences or other quotidian writing tools, is a snapshot of life right now.

Life seems to have taken hold of me in different ways, and I spent most of the summer getting small things done. Teaching two years in a row in the same school and grade meant that most of my creative energy fell into research, review and thinking of what teach and how… only to throw most of it out once we were back to school. Oh well, next year I will waste less time in the summer! Love teaching, don’t love the high stakes testing… love my students and colleagues and administrators… and wish I had more energy. The house is slowly, slowly coming together, but still far from finished. I am enjoying having two adult children, with one away (and done with college now!) and one living at home while working and saving up for his future. Tom is still the same (wonderful) and we are having fun going to concerts at Benaroya again this year. For a treat, and because it’s now only the two of us going, we have sprung for second-tier boxes this year. And it is a treat… And in the summer we will enjoy some plays in Ashland again. We are low-maintenance people most of the time, so luxuries like this are extra-special. I don’t buy many clothes, books or other accoutrements (although I am managing to collect multiple instruments again!), so this is a fruitful way to make memories and spend our time together. More again at some point…

What we’ve been up to…

Posted by on 05 Jul 2015 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, good things, house building, Uncategorized, weather

Mostly going through boxes from the fire (two years ago), and boxes from the storage locker (almost a year). Watering — a LOT because of the intensely high, unseasonal heat (90s in the shade — the kind of weather that would be normal for about four days in August). Gardening — Tom has been getting the rest of the veggie garden dug out. Working in the classroom to sort and toss as needed (cannot finish organizing until the floors are done being shampooed).

And putting up a few more items that have been waiting for the right hardware, moment and place.

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