Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Too Curious?

This is the final installment of THE SLICE OF LIFE CHALLENGE 2015.  Each year during the month of March teachers and students are invited to write daily, post and comment on at least three other participants offerings.  Every year, I am inspired and motivated to write.  I wouldn't miss it.  Here is my SOL 2015, #31:

Holding my mother's hand, I watched my brother and sister dash for the car, leaving us behind.  In no hurry my mother walking a slow pace along the manicured lawn, remarked about the colors and beauty of the flower beds. We arrived at the car, my brother and sister hunched in the back seat urging, "Hurry Ma, let's get outta here!"

Before that,  my mother shading her eyes from the sun, pressed her nose into the window pane of a large building. There was something going on in there.  Adults in fancy dress milled in and out of the ornate threshold.

Before that, my mother stopped the car in the parking lot and announced that, "We are going to see how the other half lives."

Before that, we saw the bell boys who stood outside The Shawmut Inn in their  long pants and jackets adorned with gold braids and brass.  My mother slowed down under the portico.  We all thought she was stopping the car, but instead sped ahead once a young man stepped toward our car.  She opted for another place to park the car.

Before that, my teen-aged sister tried to rub the melted ice cream that dribbled down my front.  The napkin stuck leaving behind little puffs of white on my shorts and shirt. It was a hot day my legs were even sticky.

Before that, we stopped at Garside's Ice Cream and my mother paid for four cones from the change jingling in her small purse.  Through the week she stuck stray coins in there. She used it only on weekend excursions to places like the beach.  She always brought a little money, just in case...

Before that, we drove along the river with the windows rolled down singing.

Before that, we piled into the car in our rubber flip flops, shorts and the coolest shirts we could find because it was much too hot to be stuck in the house and even hotter outside.

Before that, my mother said we were going for a drive. A long summer drive meant all four windows were rolled way down as the cool air chased the heat away. Long summer drives were always a series of expected, yet unexpected events orchestrated by an adventurous, daring woman who was at times a bit too curious for her less adventurous teenagers.  As the story goes, me (the youngest at the time) did not know any better.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Super Powers

This morning I was so thrilled to be listening to a young one read.  We have been working so hard making meaning using text; and with that comes expression and phrasing.   This student read three books in succession with great confidence and fluency. So long to reading word by word.    My cheeks hurt from smiling through the books, I added, "Wow, you have been reading right along just like a story teller.  Wow.  You've been working on that.  You did it, didn't you?"

He sat back in his chair, paused and then offered while unzipping his jacket, "You know why?"
Watching him unzip, I was trying to anticipate his reasoning.  With his warm up jacket unzipped, he puffed up his chest.  "I'm Super Man!" he said revealing the BIG S!

How I love my job!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Of Little Grace

The melting snow has become grainy crystals of ice. Still there is a big fence of snow separating our property from the neighbors. Holding the empty cake pan with a thank you note for my belated birthday cake, I peered over to see if the neighbor kids were playing outside. The pan needed to be returned before it got lost in the shuffle of our kitchen. Seeing no one I contemplated the road which would bring me to the front of their house nearly a block away. Instead I looked for little foot prints in the snow, evidence that the trek next door had been successful at some point in time. I figured it was worth a try. I paused, looked ahead, noting it wasn't that far. I had to get over the bank of deep snow. The first step held my adult weight, but the second sent me sinking in snow the entire length on my left leg disappeared. My right leg only sunk halfway, but created an odd shift of my weight. I was stuck. I mean really stuck. I couldn't move. Wiggling my leg did not release the icy grip. I began to laugh. Yelling for help would be far too embarrassing. The oldest interrupted dribbling his basketball, came over to grab the pan and asked if I needed a hand. Come on, I thought, I can get out. I don't have to cause a scene. For a split second I thought, what if I can't get out. Without thought, my bare hands plunged into the ice. The only way out was to sit. The snow was saturated with ice water making it feel doubly cold.  I sat back, shifting my weight so I could pull my leg out. My Bean boots were barely tied; I prayed that they would stay on my feet or that they would not collect snow. Pivoting I noticed how dirty and muddy the snow was in places. I pushed my body away from the bank and onto the puddly pocked driveway. I snickered all that way into the house, my butt soaked and my hands cold and dripping wet. Relieved that I escaped this one, shaking my head, I remembered I have a knack for getting into and out of the funniest predicaments, but it is seldom graceful.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


The grey ocean met the dull milky sky. Everything seemed colorless to her. She roamed through the day looking for things to comfort: a book filled with heroic words left her feeling empty and powerless. She was grumpy, but really had little to be grumpy about, although many locals were irritable about the weather. Restlessness drew her outside where snow banks still made formidable walls separating neighbors. There were signs of reprieve from this relentless winter season, however. Temperatures were rising. Snow and ice were melting. Standing in a once frozen puddle, her unlined Bean boots reserved for spring kept her feet dry.  

Even mud puddles are little blessings making any Mainer, even grumpy ones rejoice after a winter that has lingered a bit too long.

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Balm

Surrounding myself with beauty
Soothes my soul,
Be it a bird's feather,
The delicate spiral of a shell
A satellite of tight buds,

Surrounding myself with beauty
Soothes my soul,
A balm for dark times.

(Slice of Life Day 27-Hosted by The Two Writing Teachers)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Self Care

Although it was a balmy 45 degrees yesterday, I took refuge in the bedroom-the warmest room in the house.  As a buffer between home and work, I lounged on the bed with a good book.  Once my husband came home, we ate.  Then we both returned to the "warm room" each with a book.  While we read, the cats and dogs joined us. We had a full bed. Being cozy and warm, my eyes kept closing.  In an attempt to continue reading-the book rested opened on my chest.  I read in spurts, but finally gave into the coziness.  Snuggling into my husband, my head rested in the crook of his arm.  About an hour later, I wiped the drool from my face and adjusted my glasses that pressed into my face while I snored.  Plans to go to studio to finish a ring were curtailed.  Instead of going out into the cold, dark night I put my pajamas on and continued to read and rest, read and rest.  This was an act of self-care.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Promise of Return

Somedays are dark.  Somedays it is hard to wade through the muck of life.  I become sad at times.  I worry.  Often something, despite myself startles me and knocks me into a state of gratitude.

Last night was a tough night with teenagers.  If you have raised teenagers, I needn't go into detail.  Life can be trying at times.  Sleep was fitful; tossing, turning and a tired brain  awoke in overdrive.  

This morning, I escaped to work, seeking reprieve.  I nearly rushed to start the engine to  loosen the ice on the windshield, without pausing to notice.  All was quiet outside, aside from a cardinal who sang to me from the highest branch of a deciduous nearby.  A dusty red, the bird's breast expanded with each note.  The song made me happy.  I smiled.

There is so much to be thankful for despite the struggles and lessons in life.  I choose to live a whole-hearted life, noticing the unexpected gifts. It is certain the cardinal will return.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I know for sure...

I am not afraid to cry in front of others.

This winter weather has gone on much too long.

That my parents had a knack for loving all of us.  They gifted each of us the feeling that we were the favorite of the family.  I know for sure...I don't know how they did it.

That some of my favorite memories with my dad took place at Fenway Park in Boston.

My brother is a trivia nut.

I become anxious in large crowds when I am alone.

Some kids don't deserve the life they were handed.

Sometimes life is unfair.

Sometimes I laugh out-loud at myself because I am my mother's daughter.

Living life in the state of gratitude makes things better; like when my mother kissed my bandaged knee it made the hurt go away. (At least a little bit.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Stories While Driving

Nothing was familiar to me. Buildings sprang up where before cows grazed. Bagel shops, flea markets and a tattoo parlor all new. But as I drove along Route One, I tried to recall the past to make sense of the present. The traffic was heavier than it was decades ago. The white brick building I passed once housed a bakery. The same bakery that refused my Auntie a "baker's dozen" is now a tiny Thai Restaurant. The old grey building that once was an orphanage looms and I wonder what ever happen to my best friend in Kindergarten. Vicky and her brother disappeared one day. My mother gently explained that her parents divorced and both kids were sent to the orphanage. I had always wanted to knock on the door and see my friend, but I was also worried that if Vicky left so easily and suddenly that it could surely happen to me. I zoomed passed the green light and toward the marsh. This morning the road was dry. When I wasyoung this  stretch of road flooded regularly. On Sunday mornings, the police would wave my mother through the water. It would splash up under the car making a terrible vibrating noise, while I hid my face as my big sister hugged and soothed me. Weekly trips from Biddeford to Portland to visit my aunt cultivated family stories.  Driving along ordinary landmarks this morning, prompted  the recollection of some pretty extraordinary stories that began as tiny seeds in a little girl.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


This evening
I prepare supper
In the house that was
My mother's
And father's,
Not much has changed
Most remains the same.

Reminders of another time
Etched into the cutting board,
My father's coffee mug on a hook
As if waiting a return.

This evening
I sat remembering.
In reality,
So much has changed.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Another Saturday

It is Saturday, so it means it is snowing, again. Wintery weather is dragging us all around the snow and ice, whereas we would all rather be wallowing in spring mud and pot holes.

Unless there is traveling in my future, I don't pay much attention to the weather. It is something that can't be controlled; I take it as it comes. Although I must admit that there is a restless stirring within me.

I want to walk in the woods and feel the layers of pine needles cushion each step. I want to pause and run my fingers across the expanse of moss-a carpet of emerald green. I want to slip into Donnell's Pond and feel myself glide through the cool water, buoyant growing stronger with each stroke. I want to dip my hands into the loose soil and smell the pungent odor that comes with planting tomatoes. I want a gentle warm breeze to play with my hair. Simply, I want sun. I want, we all want, but we must practice patience. Sometimes it is a challenge.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Before That...

Inspired by fellow-blogger, Susanne from Make, Share, Give.  I tried this simple technique that my students would love.

I sat down, listening to my stomach growl while everyone was eating lunch.

Before that, I listened to one of my students read a passage with fluency.  Music to my ears.

Before that, I watched a first grader stretch herself as a writer by adding more details to her piece even though she thought she was done.

Before that, I helped a child choose a pile of favorite books to re-read over the weekend.

Before that, I collected data on a student's reading progress, plotted it on a graph, and celebrated with her.

Before that, I attended another meeting about a kid that is destined for amazing things in his life.

Before that, my husband and I stood in the kitchen, facing each other, holding each other as partners on a Spiritual journey and we prayed.

Before that, we rose before sunrise for our last day of the Bahai Fast, ate a breakfast of eggs and toast, while sipping on lattes.

Before that, we noted that tomorrow is Naw Ruz and the first full day of Spring, a time for celebration even though it is still WINTER.

                                                                     -A Sentiment I share

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Giving Up

This post is dedicated to my kind-hearted teacher Patience Blythe  who encourages me and helps me through the rough spots.

"I'm getting bored with Reading and Writing.  I'll do anything easy." 

Sometimes we have to put ourselves in a position of learning something new to remember the struggles that some students face each day.  For most children the process of learning to read takes some effort and sustained attention.  It is attending to meaning and the patterns within words and structure of connected text.  It is practicing the acquisition of strategies over and over and utilizing flexible problem solving.  One has to be on their game and sustain some effort with a kind teacher nearby.

My student who didn't think she could read the whole book did.  I told her my story.  I hope that it helped.  Below is a long version:

Since September I have been spending a few hours a week learning the art of Metal Smithing.  Just having to learn how to use a blow torch without freaking out was a struggle.  Gripping the cold metal in my hand, I would routinely take some breaths to calm my fear.  My father spoke to me, "You're going to burn your eye brows off.  It's going to explode!  Something bad is going to happen."  This took weeks of consistent effort and positive self talk to overcome.  

Creating wearable jewelry from wire and flat metal really isn't the easiest thing to do.  Sometimes I become impatient with myself and my inability to conceptualize things spatially.  Sometimes I get frustrated when my hands are not strong enough to pry a piece of metal from each other.  Sometimes I just want to be done with a project.  It takes too long and it requires too much effort.  

Last night, sitting at the work table I began to craft a third attempt at creating prongs to hold an intricate piece of coral.  Using pliers I curved the wire around the bottom of the coral.  I examined the shape of the coral and tried to duplicate it by bending some metal.  I just couldn't get it right.  "Too small," my teacher advised, "Try again!"

"Again?" I complained in a voice much like a 14 year old.  I wondered if I was invested in this piece enough to work through the tough parts.  I tossed the wire to the side and announced, "I'm done for the night. I don't want to do this."

I sat.  Silent.  There were no other projects pending.  I was at a loss.  If I didn't pick up the wire again and work through it, in the end I wouldn't have a ring-a finished product.   

Determination appeared from somewhere. I can't give up just because the process is hard.  Something new is bound to be challenging.  Last night I left the studio with a set of prongs; that much closer to a finished ring. 

My young reader seemed fascinated to know that I too had struggles and frustrations learning something new.  In the end, I didn't give up and neither did she.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Marking the Years!

Yesterday,  on my birthday I was surprised by one lonely cupcake left on the dashboard of my car.  It was topped with a strawberry.

To celebrate, my husband took me out to eat.  While I ate, I thought of the cupcake; a small token of love and deliciousness sitting in the cupboard.  Rather than order dessert at the restaurant, I knew it was waiting for me.

Through the evening, the temperature had dropped and the wind was gusting.  It was not a fit night out for anyone.  The ride home from our celebration was a shivery one. We were nearly home,  I envisioned the plan for the rest of the evening.  First, I would slip into my flannel pajamas, snuggle in bed, eat my birthday cupcake and give my husband a bite or two.

Once inside the house, I opened the corner cabinet,  only to find the dishes neatly stacked. "Isaiah, did you eat my birthday cupcake?" I yelled upstairs to my six foot four son.

Leaning down into the great room from the landing outside his bedroom, he meekly replied, "Maybe."  He rushed down the stairs.  "Where was it?" he asked.  I flung the cabinet door opened.   No cupcake.

"Sorry Mum.  I didn't know it was yours.  I thought it was some random cupcake."

Reaching out for a hug I say,"It's OK, really.  I didn't need it."

"Happy Birthday, Mum!" I hear him say as he hugs me back.

Marking 58 years without cake wasn't so bad after all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Perfect Simple Love

Years ago, my mother was in a hospital bed praying to St. Jude, the Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases.  Beginning my life as a "hopeless case" may conjure up some magnificent images giving one a long-standing inferior complex.  However, the first few months of my life (spent mostly in the hospital) and through my adult years, I was surrounded by the unconditional love of my dear mother and father. I believe love saved me.

Now my world of love has expanded.  It's the little things like a First Grader skipping down the hall and saying, "Happy Birthday!"   And it is the unexpected.  Slipping into the car to de-ice the windows this morning, my eyes fell upon this.  A sentiment from my youngest; a card filled with that unconditional love and a cupcake.  No, I am not perfect.  I am loved. A perfect simple love. I am grateful.

Monday, March 16, 2015


                              -Buried Car In Early Winter

My morning routine can be sabotaged with one interruption.  Then I am in trouble.  Because I chose to stay inside all day yesterday reading and concocting a warming dish of vegetables swimming in red curry, I forgot that it had snowed.  I forgot that there was a nasty accumulation on my car.  It snowed, it rained and then it snowed again.  As a result, this morning my car was draped in two inches of snow and ice.

I'll blame my morning routine problem also on my new hair style.  I bought a set of electric curlers reminiscent of my college days.  This was a daily routine decades ago.  Out of practice, all weekend, I lined up the colors of clips that coordinated with the various sized curlers.  Rolled my hair over and over for speed, efficiency and quality curl.   I thought I had it down.  An added dilemma was should I shower first or curl first?  Or shower with or without curlers in my hair?  See why I was a bit late this morning?

Opening the door and stepping outside, my feet crunched the snow.  My curly hair blew a bit in the wind.  For a moment I thought that my efforts toward beautification would be for naught.  Looking at my car, I knew I had bigger obstacles.   I had forgotten about the snowy icy mess.  I had forgotten that I would have to chip and scrape and scrape and chip. With scraper in hand, I began.   It was hard going and I wondered if I would have the endurance to finish the job.  Portholes carved in snow were just not safe.  My arms ached.  My breathing quickened.  I moved from window to window until the glass was cleared. It seemed to take forever.

On the drive to work, I began counting the cars that did not have evidence of snow or ice. I felt a tinge of jealousy toward the owners of clean cars.   However I noted, there were an equal number of cars that had layers of ice and snow everywhere but the windshield and back window.  Gripping the wheel a bit tighter, I smiled knowing that I wasn't the only soul to wrestle with the elements this morning.  We are the hardy ones who got a work-out before starting the car. Oh and by the way, tomorrow will be a straight hair day!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

To Deviate

I did something tonight that I never never do. It is not that earth shattering really, but a curious notion to me. I deviated from a recipe that I had never prepared before. The red curry with vegetables over jasmine rice was just the dish to warm and comfort us during a mid March snow storm. 
This may not sound like a big deal, but I am quite rigid in the kitchen. I am a compulsive measurer. Double and triple checking ingredients, directions and measurements.

Last night, a frantic 30 minutes was spent dumping dry ingredients into a bowl and adding water by the tablespoonful. Back and forth, I gauged the dough-too wet, I added dry. Then too dry I added wet. Back and forth. It was never the correct consistency. Impulsive, impatient and  made a double batch of corn tortilla last week, I used the recipe as a guideline. I dumped rather than measured. When things were not going right, I cursed myself for not using a measuring cup and measuring spoons. In the end I realized I had unknowingly used corn meal rather than corn flour and never achieved the desired results. With a bowl of mush, my husband suggested the addition of an egg to bind the mixture. Our dinner guest arrived to witness the disaster and suggested the same thing: an egg. So with a splash of almond milk and an incredible egg; a new  dish was born. 

If alone, I would have dumped the error and then felt guilty about wasting food when there are starving souls on this planet. Instead my husband and dear friend alerted me to the possibilities of creative additions.  Dinner was a success albeit interesting and not anything I had expected. That is not always a bad thing.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Baby Feet

Some things you can't help inheriting; I got  a literal view of life from my mother and a case of bad feet from my father. 

"It's OK honey. You'll be beautiful. You are beautiful. The cheese grater. We'll use," her voice trailed off as the small Vietnamese woman with long slender fingers squeezed something onto my heels from a plastic bottle. "It's OK honey," she repeated while reaching into her bin for a cheese grater. Yes, the same kind I use to sprinkle Parmesan on pasta. 

"You'll have baby feet," she added showing all the dead skin she peeled from my heels. 

I leaned back, closing my eyes, grateful that this woman was trying hard to make this pedicure a good experience. 

As I slipped my baby feet into my wool socks and clogs after the pedicure, I realized the power of a little woman and a cheese grater. Wouldn't my father who fought with his feet, be jealous and horrified at the same time!

Friday, March 13, 2015


Ever since I watched the Brene Brown TED talk on vulnerability, I have been more aware of the times when I feel guarded and instances when I exert control.  The essence of her talk is that one must be vulnerable in order to feel the full measure of emotions such as joy and love.

I have raised five teenagers.  There are three more to go.  Lately, the experience has been riddled with sadness, worry and frankly not a lot of joy.

Raising my first born, I held onto the image of perfection.  After all, I was raised on Leave it to Beaver, The Brady Bunch and the antics of the Huxtable family.  As a first time parent I learned so much about myself.  And even though decades have past since my son was a teenager, I continue to discover new things about myself through my role as a parent. Perhaps at times I cling to the notion of perfectionism.

Today during lunch I called a friend who I have not seen for a long time.  She is wholly accepting of me.  She knows more about me and the inner workings of my quirky brain than any other person.   I can sit on her couch and be totally transparent, without fear. There is mutual trust.  I daresay that I have not encountered this often in my life. In her presence I allow myself to be vulnerable.

Struggles with raising teenagers in this era, often cloud my vision of who I am.  Preferably, I would like to be a fully joyful parent, free of strife and anxiety; at least some of the time.   I look forward to seeing her tomorrow.   It is sure that  together we will laugh, cry and dream in a space of time where I can be accepting of who I am and make no apologies.  Totally vulnerable.  Free.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Ice shatters
under my weight,
A woodpecker searches for bugs,
Tap, tap, tap.

Tap, tap, tap
Fingers hit keys,
Letters become words

The clock
In its' beat.

Breath slows,
In. And. Out.
In. And. Out.
I notice.

This was an exercise in sensory attention, namely through sound.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dodging Puddles

The sun was dim most of the day giving just a hint of light. Snow banks line the perimeters of any standing building now in great mounds. It has been this way for more than a month with a fury of successive snow events. So today from the safety of inside one thinks winter. Cold. Ice. Snow.

I dash from school to pick up my youngest; my down jacket zipped to my neck. The sun stronger now, I dodge a few puddles and note warmth. Toying with the idea of removing my jacket, I convince myself it is still winter. Driving off I glance at the digital temperature gauge on my car. 55 warm degrees. Suddenly, I begin to sweat and smile.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Chance

I was surprised by my reaction.  Raw emotion.  The conversation continued as I wiped the tears that slipped down my cheeks.  If I had known I would have prepared myself in some way (I'm not sure how) and I would have warned the parents who sat across from me at the table.  It was Parent Teacher Conferences. I hadn't expected to cry.

Not to boast, but I have the best job in the school; I help students to discover the joy of reading and books.  I am the reading teacher and the bonus is that I write with kids too.  A dream job, indeed.

It is true that some children do not have access to books.  It is true that some families do not relish being transported by words or intrigued by learning new things just with the turn of a page.  And it is true that I worry that there are children who will not develop a passion for reading because they do not have a champion in their lives.

Through blurred vision, I thanked this husband and wife.  Reading is just what they do in this family. These two professionals come home after a busy, long day and they listen to their kids read-if not at night in the morning.  Even the youngest, not yet in school reads.  They also have regular family read-alouds.  Maybe they all jump into bed under a downy pile of comfort or lay by the wood stove and listen to  their dad read Charlotte's passionate and tearful farewell to her friend Wilbur or  laugh while the words tumble off dad's tongue while he reads Green Eggs and Ham.  It is what they do as a family.  They read. The printed word is held in high esteem.

Yes, I was vulnerable.  My voice shook.  I cried.  I celebrated their passion.  I ended the evening knowing that not every child has books at home, but every teacher that they encounter in their lives can be their champion.

Monday, March 9, 2015

hurry home love

He leans in
Gives me a kiss
Never shy
About showing

Weekday mornings
He hovers by the door
Unsure about
My leaving.

The last image
I see
Out the bedroom
As I motor down the drive,
A nose pressed
To glass
Saying something like,
Aww, I love you!
Why'd you have to go?
Hurry Home!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Limitations of Control

Yesterday I viewed my day through a lens of discontent.  Somedays all the strife, struggle and worry in the world runs through my veins like bad blood.  I guess I had forgotten to put my "armor" on.

Today I rose before the sunrise, ate, and prayed. I prayed for understanding and patience.

Visiting my sister who has been gracefully sitting in a recliner for months healing, I am struck by her positive attitude which runs contrary to my dreary outlook of 12 hours ago.  One of my father's favorite replies when someone asked him how he was doing was, "As well as can be expected under the circumstances."  Sometimes that is all we can do.

Today sweeping my brother's floor with the corn cob broom, I notice how the floor shone in the late morning light.  The laundry retrieved from the dryer felt so warm in my arms; the clothes soft and clean. The constancy of my brother's habits listening to NPR this morning over breakfast wraps me in comfort.  Yet, so much has changed over the past year.

My sister knows the limitations of control.  It is all a matter of perspective.  Mine has shifted.   I note the broom, dishes and the laundry,  however mundane keep me in the present.  Fear of change oddly mires me in the past or in the future.  For right now.  I am thankful; grateful for the courage to examine my feelings,  my sometimes warped thoughts surrounded by those who love me unconditionally.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


How can 24 hours pass as just ordinary?  
More laundry.
More dishes.
Cooking again.

Was I not awake as I performed these duties?  I feel ungrateful.
Last night the day held promise
Choices made.

Note to self:
My soul needs 
So much more.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Time Mismanagement

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.