hope

Archived Posts from this Category

We. Are. Here.

Posted by on 03 May 2017 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, hope, musings

The universe is changing,
but we are here.
The stars break forth, coalesce, dissolve, and reform
and we are here.
Species come and go, diversify and disappear…
while we are here.
The weather changes, and everywhere
we are here.
We. Are. Here.
Despite change, despite struggle, despite fear…

We go on.

Today in the Garden (Reviving a Series)

Posted by on 01 Apr 2017 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, seasons

I used to try to post a little something from our yard once a week, and whenever new things “popped up.” But after the loss of our home it was too hard to keep ahead of much.

I think we have turned a corner this year. At least, I have, and so here for your viewing pleasure are a few pics of today’s landscape. Tom took these, enjoy!

In random order, can you find the yellow japanese kerria that is “climbing” the chestnut? The bright coral quince that belonged to Tom’s grandmother in the hills of Kentucky? Cascara flowers? The plum with an orchard mason bee already enjoying the dryer weather? The scylla, several clumps of daffodils, heather, primroses, and trillium? Wally’s fenced area should be pretty easy to identify! The author might be in there too, looking tired but relaxed.

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.

In charge of change (another delayed post)

Posted by on 21 Feb 2016 | Tagged as: children, citizenship, climate, economy, editorial, environment, hope, Making a Difference, musings, politics, Politics and War, Uncategorized

The orginal post was almost finished in January 2009. Here is the original, and how I would finish it now:

It seems to me that a lot of the time people expect government to step in and do clean-up, not matter what the troubles, whether big or small. And it seems to me that, sometimes, government just isn’t equipped to do things especially quickly, or in small doses that might be effective before things reach a crisis state.

Now, I believe we are facing a crisis. And I don’t believe that the crisis is “not as bad as” the one we faced in the Great Depression; or the Cold War; or any of a number of Capital-Letter Events this nation and the world have faced. I believe this crisis is unique and will have far-reaching, long-ranging effects. I don’t know that there is anything particularly special or noteworthy about the crisis other than:

  • millions of people around the world are losing their jobs with little hope or prospect of finding a new one with similar (presumably livable) conditions soon.
  • the climate is changing and there are other conditions making agriculture difficult over large areas, causing crop failure and famine for millions of people, with the predictable political upheaval and conflict.
  • posturing and saber-rattling by military and para-military forces around the world, not unlike that before world war one, and world war two, the cold war… and every war and conflict.

It isn’t any one particular scruffy-looking person on a street corner that indicates homelessness is increasing. It isn’t any one particular “For Sale” sign on a street the indicates the failure of banks. It isn’t any one bank failure that indicates economic melt-down.

It isn’t any one particular event that indicates wide-spread disaster, no more than any one particular monsoon or melting glacier doesn’t indicate global warming is occuring (I hope that I don’t need to explain that global warming is happening?).

The signs of increasing homelessness were my first clue that the economy was in bad shape — and getting worse. Naively, I thought government was keeping tabs on things and would somehow have things in place to avert total disaster. Just as I, naively, expected the military to be able to effect winning campaigns.

Of course, I thought the military would have sufficient support from the bureaucrats who ordered them into battle. And I supposed that the regulatory commissions in charge of finances had the resources and rules in hand to avert the kind of disaster that followed the greedy policies prior to the Wall Street crash of 1929.

Naive. Yes. Perhaps wishful thinking as well — wanting to not have to be responsible or reactive to things not immediately under my control. Going about my own business, doing what I was supposed to do. Noticing of course that there were more people on street corners, that food banks were running low, that more houses were for sale for longer… and I noticed these things before they were on the news. Did I stick my head in the sand? Did I expect too much of my elected government? Did I fail to meet my own obligations?

Like a peasant who expected the liege lord to be sure that enough of the tithes and rents and fees were put aside in case of disaster; I have found instead that those relief supplies were long-since consumed by the departing denizens of the manor-house as they hosted others of similar means. Regardless of the origin of the crisis, the peasant children starve, people die. Though good intentions may now take hold, the new lord lacks the resources to contribute in any meaningful way to alleviate the suffering.

The government finds itself in a similar situation today. Though we have a new president, administration, and the legislative branch is also updated, there is little that remains for them to do.

So what are WE, whether peasants or higher-ranking vassals, going to do?

We can choose to //

I suspect that when I finish a post in mid-sentence that I was called away for kid-duty.

In the case of this post, perhaps it was also related to the hip issues I was having that year, or the class I was taking.

I would now alter the term “global warming” to the more accurate, and less-likely to be misinterpreted climate change. The rest pretty well represents my thinking, and, sadly, how prescient I was.

We are seeing the effects of governments’ lack of action in a world-wide, drawn-out recession that seems to stall each time some progress is made. Strange weather patterns of drought, extra precipitation, heat, cold, and winds are becoming more common. Low-lying nations are ravaged by combinations of higher tides and more violent storms. As I finish this post in February 2016 (seven years later), Fiji is recovering from a direct hit from a Category 5 cyclone. The overall U.S. Economy has recovered from the deep economic woes of the past decade, but by creating lower-wage and part-time jobs that keep the poor in their place and benefit the rich and powerful. Those of us who have been “middle class” are less and less likely to have extra for things like savings accounts, visiting relatives who live at a distance…

Politicians, this being a presidential election year, refer frequently to helping the “middle class” which increasingly, by their metrics, includes families who are barely scraping by. And families earning a quarter million dollars a year. They rarely talk about working class people, or those who live in poverty while working more than full-time hours at multiple jobs.

Finally teaching, I see the effects of twenty-plus years of misguided political directives on my students. In the failed refusal to support young families by means other than the barest minimums; by failures to fully fund education (Washington state legislators, I am pointing this finger at you); by ignoring overseas hostilities and human rights violations until the issues turn into full-fledged war; and by an increasing disregard for the realities of life on our planet, in part because of irrational fears over science (or is it self-serving economics that makes these politicians work to protect fuel sources that damage the planet and fail to promote measures that heal?).

I am angry about this. My sons, now grown into fine young adults, are starting out in a world that reeks of protectionism, isolationism, racism, and secularism. The founders of our nation would be shocked to see the petty tyrants mow fighting for supremacy in our land. They would be, I think, appalled at the careless disregard for human life, for dignity, and for giving all people a fair shot at pursuing happiness.

So here we are, seven years on from the original post, and I am still wondering if the people of the United States have the fortitude to do what is necessary to take back our nation. Do we have the wisdom to make changes in our personal lives in spending/purchasing, work/career, civic duties?

I purchased a used hybrid car to make my commute of over 30 miles each way to save on gasoline even though it is a big chunk of my take-home pay. We recycle, even though hauling it to the curb twice a month is inconvenient (our driveway is longer than most yards!). We eat mostly locally grown, mostly organic foods that are expensive, but have a lighter footprint for fuel and carbon production. My peculiar allergies mean we purchase many things that come from a great distance but, where we can, we do choose local! We vote…

What can you do? What will you do?

{edited several times for typos due to composing on an ipad… ]

New Year Intentions

Posted by on 01 Jan 2015 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, hope, seasons, Uncategorized

Working on stating things in the positive this year:

  • I will organize my home office/studio in easy stages
  • I will be patient with myself as I continue learning to teach a new age range
  • I will organize my school files as I finish each week, so the work does not pile up
  • I will begin making plans for my next year, now that I understand what needs to be in place at the mid-year point
  • I will plan my garden upgrades with long-term sustainability in mind instead of short-term appearances
  • I will maintain my health and as I am able increase my exercise and improve my diet

May the new year bring opportunities for abundance, prosperity and joy.

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!

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.

Today in the garden…

Posted by on 26 Jun 2014 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, Uncategorized

(Pictures are from yesterday)

I woke up around 5:30 this morning, managed to stay in bed until just after 6 — couldn’t sleep, didn’t want to stay in bed. So I wandered out to the hardware store to get some hoses and hose materials (mostly connectors so I don’t have to have a single, 300-foot hose), and some more shelving pieces. Now working on the two linen closets, and trying to figure out a way to have taller items on the floor but sufficient shelf space. I like the closetmaid system because it is pretty easily reconfigured if I change my mind! Which I tend to do.

The rest of the day was spent looking in some boxes, found a couple books I thought I had discarded after the fire. They still need to be discarded, but since I had forgotten to get the title and author names, I am glad to have had the reminder. Also a lot of of miscellaneous items that I want to keep “for now” but not forever, and will simply box up again until I need them. I’ll put labels on the boxes this time, after I sort them into the appropriate piles! Someone seems to have mixed up some of the items; I find cleaned items next to soot-covered items, which is disconcerting and means I have to be very careful when lifting things out so I don’t smudge the clean ones. {note: I made a couple editorial changes when Tom suggested that perhaps some of the items were “scrambled” by having been taken to the apartment and hastily reboxed at some point}

And then I spent some time sitting with Mother on the little patio Grant built me, just visiting and talking about how things are going. Little by little both the house and the yard are taking shape. Here are a few pictures I took yesterday. I’ll post a few more of the patio and front entrance once I have cleaned it up a little more. I finally have some ideas that will better define the “drivable” and “off-limits” areas, and will get that finished over the weekend.

Here is my official “greeter” who used to sit facing south, but now relaxes under shelter as people walk toward the door. She was a gift from my mother in law when we first moved here.

the hens-n-chicks have been replanted since we moved home

the hens-n-chicks have been replanted since we moved home

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Memories… Dreams and Wishes (Pollyanna speaks)

Posted by on 18 Mar 2014 | Tagged as: hope, house building, housefire, loss, Uncategorized

One year ago today I went to teach on a beautiful, sunny day. I left early, telling Lucky I would be home and we would go for a walk in the evening if it was nice. Tom was still asleep. So was Grant.

It was a lovely, sunny, warm day.

A few hours later, Lucky was gone. So were the birds. The house was uninhabitable. Family heirlooms destroyed and damaged. The accumulations of four lives smudged out. Grant was covered in soot and being brave, having come home to discover the house in flames…

Today was gray and cool. I left the apartment early to go work at the school, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I dropped Grant off at the college for his yoga class. I didn’t teach today because of conference scheduling, so I went to a dentist appointment before I met with parents, and spent the rest of the work day either organizing files (much needed) or in meetings.

Today, instead of my parents meeting me at the door of my classroom when the children left for the day, I called and went to visit after I left school. Just a quiet afternoon, looking at magazines of house things and dreaming about how the new house will function. Feeling so very very tired…

I want my home back. My yard, my gardens, my books, my child’s sense of security. Some things will eventually recover. Other things are going to develop a “new normal.” And some things just will never feel right again.

But in the grand scheme of things, the loss of a house, the loss of “things” is so small. In the grand scheme of things, I have my best friend to share my life with, my children, my family, my friends, my colleagues, my students and a world of possibilities that still extend for years in every direction. In the grand scheme of things, I have hope.

My wish is that everyone could have hope for a brighter future. It’s why I teach. And it’s why I plant trees as well as vegetables.

Hope.

It makes the world go ’round.

Tile for the master bath

Posted by on 01 Feb 2014 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, hope, house building, Uncategorized

I am going to tile our shower. Haven’t done exactly this sort of thing before, but “how hard can it be?” — right?

So today Tom and I chose the tile for this project, which will begin as soon as I have drywall. Probably next weekend!

Here’s a little picture.

the red floor at the bottom (with paw prints) is what we have, the rocky tiles on the upper right will go on the floor, the large 10x20 inch tile on the left will be for the shower walls.

the red floor at the bottom (with paw prints) is what we have, the rocky tiles on the upper right will go on the floor, the large 10×20 inch tile on the left will be for the shower walls.

I’ll take some pictures of the base for the patio tomorrow if I get out there again. Today Tom and Grant planted the sad little redwood (it had been topped) in the back yard, and I pruned the spirea a bit. It all needs so much more work, but every hour that I spend at home is a true gift. I so love my land!

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