Friday, March 6, 2015

Time Mismangagement

My father was always punctual.  He left plenty of time (sometimes a few extra hours) to get somewhere, accounting for any natural disaster or blown tire that may have attempted to thwart his journey to get anywhere on time.

I have a job that requires precision timing.  In normal circumstances, I set a timer for each lesson with a student.  Throughout each period with students, I pace the lesson to ensure that I get everything in. Like my father, I am normally on time, yet I leave little wiggle room for the unexpected. I go with the flow.

Just the other day, I got into big trouble.  My students and I were so engaged in what we were doing during our reading session that time management held no place in my brain.  It was like the three of us were transported to a strange land, privy to wonderment and curiosity.  Our brains were deliciously full and satisfied.  That is until their teacher, me came to.

I glanced at the clock, mouth gaping opened; I could barely formulate the words of warning.  "Ahhh, you boys are ten minutes late to lunch!  Hurry, and... and... I am so sorry."

Most lunch folk I have known in decades of working in public schools have a reputation.  My heels clicked down the hall in a pace that meant don't get in my way.  "It's my fault," I added as the three of us walked toward the cafeteria, "I'll apologize."

Today during our lesson, I wore an over-sized wrist watch.  "Why does your watch have such big numbers?" one student queried.  

"It keeps me out of trouble." I replied smiling.  If it were only that easy.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Escape

My bedroom as a child was in the back corner of the house.  Quiet.  Hours were spent in my room with hand-me-down books, mostly Golden Books.  Among my favorite was one with a bandaid stuck inside the cover.  The main character, a young boy jammed his finger on the trigger of his gun and then fixed it, blood and all with a bandaid.  I learned that I could be self-reliant and use the bandaid inside the book just in case.  

Hours were spent reading and re-reading about the importance of keeping promises in the classic,"The Princess and the Frog."  It had soft sweet illustrations perhaps in chalk and watercolor. The princess was depicted in this version with flowing auburn hair and painted nails.  Her father as handsome as mine had a gentle, yet stern demeanor when it came to promises, just like my father. These volumes provided both escape and life lessons.

Yesterday three new books were delivered to my door.  I slit open the cardboard box and the books slid onto the counter.  I picked each up, one my one, noting the rough paper covers and the weight of individual volumes.  Presently, I am reading two other books; the new arrivals must wait their turn. The stack of books at my bedside is growing.  In a few minutes, I am rushing home from work to read before I have to make supper.  I will find my favorite space; the back corner of the house, where it is quiet and I will escape. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Requirements for Living

Does it sound crazy that some days I don't have time to use a "To Do" list?  I just have too much to do. You can always gauge the kind of day that I am having by glancing at my glasses; dust and smudges mean a dash from meeting to meeting or appointment to appointment.  Tonight I write this squinting through streaks. Barely catching a breath-my glasses are not the only thing that needs attention.

"I'm taking five minutes.  I'll be right back,"  I called to the secretary, turning to head out the door.  It had been so long since sunshine and warmer temperatures merged, that I just had to venture out today. Once outside, I plunged my bare hands into my pockets, took a deep breath of air, and felt the warmth of the sun on my face.   My weight shifted under the melting slush masking all other sounds.  On the side of the driveway, I stopped.  Melting snow dripped, birds chattered and deep into the shadowy wood everything seemed still and quiet.

My life is a mixture of planned and unplanned chaos.  Busy yet synchronized like a well choreographed dance.  It is what gets the family through a day, a week, or a month. I have to keep forever watch on my well-being.   It is the quiet that grounds me; making all that I do for my family possible.   I pause.   I listen to the birds.  I watch the glistening evergreen branches drip, shedding a bit of winter weight.  A minimum of five minutes a day is a requirement for living.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Beyond Control And Understanding

Tonight the moon is bathed in milky white.  Pausing just for a moment I acknowledge beauty, but then  I go off the deep end. A fuzzy halo around the moon means SNOW.  Two or maybe three storms ago, my husband's plow truck decided to ignore all promptings to start.  Our long driveway remained unplowed and nearly impassable for most of one day, so  I spent several hours near the edge of the road dodging the salt spray that cars sent in my direction while I shoveled what snow was left behind by the municipal plows.  Everyone is just a little grumpy these days.  There is no where to put the snow. It has been just plan frigid for weeks on end.

Spring came to mind today as I left school midday for a meeting in another building.  My guess was that it was at least 35 degrees; you know spring-like.  Curiously, I glanced at the temperature gauge in my car and was dumbfounded.  It was a mere 28 degrees.

Sometimes it is better to be uneducated in the ways of amateur weather forecasting and declare an inability to decipher devices that measure cold in degrees.  Carefree, I will take the weather day by day and skip through the slush knowing that spring will be here-someday. At the very least I can do my best to be positive amidst a bunch of stuff that happens that is beyond my control and understanding.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Forced Spring

Howling winds push the snow around leaving it in wavy heaps blocking the front door. This afternoon I had to force my way out. 

With spring just weeks away, there seems to be no end in sight for this wintery weather. We woke to a weightless blanket of snow and another storm is forecasted for tomorrow night. The facts of living in the northeast. This is reminiscent of winters of my childhood. After dinner, heads were strategically bowed together all those years ago, brainstorming the management of snow storage as the piles grew and grew encroaching on the neighbors. 

No matter how often we three kids shoveled with my dad, there was always snow. We survived with four big shovels and a heavy wooden snow scoop built in Saco, Maine. Days were spent outside shoveling in shifts and sledding in between. Today I survive with my husband pushing snow by plow while I'm tucked inside listening to the wind, warmed by wood while fragrant soups simmer requiring a stirring now and again. 

Yet the snow comes and comes. The promise of spring is remembered inside by a bit of forcing. All that is required is a tea cup-like container, a few small rocks, a narcissus bulb, water and the knowledge that energy will be harnessed to grow a little Spring, but on its' own time.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Creating by Choice

It is Sunday and I guess we are bracing for another Sunday storm.  I don't know; the storms have come fast and furious this winter in Maine.  We take what comes. We have no choice.  No control.  Instead I spend time in my kitchen preparing a curried carrot apple soup to serve during the upcoming week.  Likely a yeasty bread will later emerge from the oven.  The kitchen is where I have some control in an otherwise out of control life.

Tonight's supper will be shredded chicken and veggies served on corn tortillas.  It has been a long time since I have made home-made corn tortillas.  While visiting Costa Rica, I watched the Ticas deftly flatten the dough with their hands.  I tried making it by hand once, just once.  It didn't work. Maybe it was because I was on US soil, so instead now I use a press.  Carrying a high degree of positivity, I expect the tortillas to be luscious and well received by my family. This  intensive process is a labor of love.

The winter has been harsh with much more snow dumped here during the month of February than we usually get for an entire season.  Some folk are distraught.  Some are cranky.  Other Mainers turn to the comfort of food.  That's me.  Here I control everything-choosing the recipes, the ingredients and what I put in my mouth and the mouths of those I love.

I chop, saute and puree.  Alone.  Solitarily by choice.  I create with great joy and love.

Friday, February 20, 2015

One Challenge, A BIGGY!

My mother collected books, magazines, and recipes among other things, like watches and remotes. (I'll save the story of the remotes for another time.)  Small piles of magazines lay ready for perusing on hassocks and side tables.  Books neatly lines several book cases, mostly unread.  "When I retire," my mother said more than a dozen times, "I'll have plenty of time to read."

Soon after my mother retired, her days were occupied with doctors in white coats leading an entourage of medical students at her bedside; a study for the medical textbook. My mother fought for every breath; learning late in her life that she carried the genetic condition Alpha 1-Antitrypsin Deficiency Disorder. Sadly, it was too late to read, cook or dream.

As I pinned another recipe to my Food and Drink board on Pinterest, I came to the realization that I will never live long enough to try all these recipes or read all the books that I have collected on my Kindle or the volumes that line my shelf.  However little by little, day by day, moment to moment I can choose what I do with the time that God has allotted me.  We all think that we have plenty of time to get healthy, read that book, learn a language or check off dreams accomplished on "The Bucket List." I am a great procrastinator.

My challenge is to live intentionally and not put anything off like I have all kinds of time. It seems like a "no brainer", so why do I have such a hard time with this one?