28 September 2011

Yay! Finally!

Remember that we traveled to Alaska in early June?  Well, we purchased a piece of art there and had it shipped here.  That painting arrived about three weeks ago.  Then, two days ago, it was finally hung in our house!


Hard to see the blueyness of the painting.  The picture itself is a lovely, artsy rendition of seals, fish, and other Alaskan critters.

The blue is more obvious here.  The picture hangs in our front room.

19 September 2011

Television Helps Clean

It's not what you think it is!

I have somehow managed to escape the last few years without watching an entire episode of the TV show 'Hoarders'.  I caught maybe half of a program about a year ago, but never a full hour.

Until tonight.

Let me tell you, if ever you need motivation to clean, clear, declutter, disinfect, or pitch, watching this show will do it.  One woman hoarded animals - over fifty dogs and cats lived in her house, which was absolutely trashed.  Cockroaches, feces, filth...all over.  Pestilence is a word rarely used in everyday language anymore; however, it perfectly summarizes this house's condition.  The other feature was a gentleman whose house ended up being condemned.  It was just plain dangerous to live there.

The older I get, the more I realize there's a lot that I can't fathom or imagine...and having this hoarding disease is one of them.  I personally am affronted by clutter...I dunno, maybe it's a Feng Shui thing, but piles of useless junk are just piles of negativity for me.  But, hating the mess and actually clearing it out are two totally unrelated ideas.  Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed...that I do nothing about it.

Now, though, I think watching 'Hoarders' will provide any future impetus I might need.  My house is millions of times better than the ones on the show, but at 9:05 tonight, after all children were in bed, I could see nothing but MESSY CHAOS!  So, my husband and I were impelled to do some work. The office, our bedroom, my bathroom, the kitchen counters/cabinets all received definite benefits. 

I guess that hour in the front of the television tonight wasn't a total waste!

16 September 2011

Get Better, Not Bitter

Today's entry title comes from a newly-popular mantra here in my hometown.  See, we have a local boy (Tyler Sash) getting ready for his rookie year in the NFL.  And this Get Better Not Bitter motto has become his catchphrase, recently emblazoned on various apparel items for purchase here in town...which were snapped up faster than walking tacos at my dinner table.  The general idea, I presume, to not let life be a downer, but to work everyday to get better, as it were.

And while I'm all about local youth making something of themselves, I'm not really a jump-on-the-bandwagon type of person.  Thus, I have not purchased a GBNB shirt.  I simply haven't felt the need.  I can admire the idea without wearing the sweatshirt, right?

But, I would like to illustrate how this very mantra has woven itself into my life recently.  Last night, I attended a company picnic with several other family members, and a cousin of mine, who is a current senior at the local high school, asked me if I missed teaching there.

Naturally, I gave a pat, nondescript answer at the time.  Because, really, the truth might have hurt.  Even myself.

The answer to the question is no.  I don't.  I surely thought I would.

However, I should clarify - I do miss my colleagues. 

Hm.  Wait.  I miss one quite regularly, and about three on an intermittent basis.

I do not miss the kids.  At all.  And here's why.

This cousin of mine is enrolled in Advanced Chem (of her own volition, mind).  She does a fair bit of complaining (especially on facebook) about how hard it is, how demanding the teacher is, etc.  Also, this rant is sprinkled with typical 18-year-old remarks about graduating, getting out of town, etc.  The grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side syndrome.

And that conversation led to this epiphany: for all the character-education and self-esteem-building we have done for our kids, we've left out this one very important lesson:  doe your worke with a chearfull harte ... as they might have said in early American times.  Bless my cousin, she's going to tough out Adv Chem, because she knows it's academically good for her...but her bitter heart isn't going to change the class, the teacher, or difficulty.

In general, the art of being cheerful is quite a lost one, I think.  The mindset begins when people have perspective, that idea that somewhere, someone is in a tougher, rougher spot than they.  When they've got a grip on that very simple idea, their hearts can begin to go about the business of living on a wave of buoyancy.

Maybe it's not fair to expect 18-year-olds to master that skill.  But I still want them to do it anyway. 

So, that's probably why I don't miss the kids yet.  My expectations of them, and what they actually do don't add up very well.  Get Better, Not Bitter, right?  That's why I resigned last spring.  And that's why I prefer working with college students. 

12 September 2011

Maori Proverb and The Divine

"Turn your face to the Sun, and the shadows fall behind you."

I discovered this delightful peach as I was browsing through The Goddess Pages.  And right now, it seems to resonate deeply with me.

If you've read my blog for any length of extended time and especially in the last year, you know I've struggled with maintaining a positive outlook.  Negativity easily creeps into my existence, and many times I lose the battle between good and evil.

It's no surprise that I now see shades of this in my own children.  Fighting, antagonizing, whining, complaining...behaviors I know might be part of a stage or phase...but are more likely the result of modeling.  And my part in it was revealed clearly only after an unbiased third party made an innocuous comment about my kids' behavior.

So - action must be taken.  Last night, I prayed.  To whom is irrelevant, but to one who might understand the current predicament I am in.  I asked for patience and calmness.  And then I asked again.

Today, I think I was rewarded.  I felt like a much more a calm wind today, much less tempestuous.  I caressed my children, interacted with them, reminded them of our expectations, etc.  Only once was my patient demeanor tested...and that was with a college student!

The Maori proverb is just awesome because it's just so true.  Look for the light, and the shadows fade.  Look for the beauty in life, and the negative crap dissipates.

06 September 2011

Amateur Poets Take World By Verse

On a silly whim tonight, my husband and I wrote poetry.

Two things about this: I'm teaching poetry in a couple of college classes, so this activity falls under the category of "research".  Also, we've been at the bottle of Luccio Moscato.

Enjoy...and don't be surprised if you find us in next month's issue of some highfalutin' poetry journal.

We started simple: HAIKU, topic: WINE


Floating, up, down, fly.
I wonder if butterflies
like red, white, or dry.


Pale bubbling gold.
Apple sweet but not peachy.
Another glass, please?

Then, it was onto QUATRAINS, topic: NATURE


Oh, no-tail squirrel!
I see how you dance,
how you twirl.
Do you think this is France?

***We laughed heartily at this one***


Oh, how I love September!
Its vibrant sun and clear blue sky,
I can't help but remember.
I wear a jacket with a content sigh.

Finally, the most difficult - SONNET, topic: CHILDREN


Pleading, needing, I cry.
Rested, contented, I sigh.
Crawling, climbing, I reach,
Looking, listening, you teach.
How you so easily forget
we were so perfectly met.
I run, I jump, I play,
I walk, I talk, I say.
Things that hurt
cover me like dirt
that makes me wonder why
you decided to conceive this guy.
I reach out to say I'm sorry
and you hug, squeeze, and love me.


What can prepare you
for the birth of a baby?
Despite all the classes,
at best, you're a "maybe".
Nobody makes it clear
that it's going to hurt a lot
and that your wildest fear
is becoming the parent you're not.
Don't think you'll revert
back to your nights of sleep.
Every sigh keeps you alert,
you'll hear every single peep.
Yet, time passes, and we forget the pain.
and again we choose not to abstain.


05 September 2011

Glass of Moscato, Wasted!

"When the wine flows, so doth the wit."  - HD Nelson

I was just minutes, nay, seconds, away from a beautiful, wonderful recap of my holiday weekend when I reached for my glass of wine...when I saw...

Drat!  A Gnat!
How about that?

Being nearly ten o'clock on a school night, I opted not for a repour after the dumping.  Instead, I will soldier on with my blog post, although I'm sure it will be driest, lamest, boringest blog entry ever...being bereft of the grape influence.

We took our children (all four of them) camping this weekend with my husband's parents.  Jaycob had never been, so we showed him how we do it, American-style.  My father-in-law brought his boat, and so we went tubing on the lake.  I thoroughly enjoyed laughing at the bounces and bobbles every one of my kids took on that tube.  My in-laws also discovered what an eater Jaycob is (six walking tacos!), not to mention how sound of a sleeper he is.

There are times when I really, really like my in-laws...and this happened to be one of those weekends.  We were able to maintain excellent bonfires...due to my FIL's ability to reuse coals from the night before AND because he is the primary source of 'Good Wood'.  Also, when I accidentally dropped my coffeepot and it shattered, he went straight away to make a pot for both of us.  In addition, he helped Brent solve an electrical problem on our camper.

In short, he is a very practical guy...good to have around, you know?  If he were a Smurf, he'd be Handy Smurf.