Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Irma the Bully: Hurricane Snow Days

In case you haven’t heard, there’s been a new girl in town the past few days, and she’s a bully. That’s right, Hurricane Irma. We pronounce her name “ear-ma” as we have a friend of the same name. She rolled into Atlanta yesterday, quite early in the morning, and proceeded to darken our skies, dump some rain, blow hard, and then, as we thought she wasn’t that big of a deal (hey, man, we didn’t even lose power!) she took out a tree in the yard. A seemingly healthy poplar, not even a tree we were stressed about.

Have you ever seen a tree fall? I happened to be glancing out into the backyard when it happened. It happens at the roots first; they just lifted up out of the ground, as I stared in shock. Slowly, they erupt, as the trunk leans, and then gravity takes over, and the weight of the thing makes it fall faster, til the resounding thump jars you back into reality. Our fence crackled like it was made of toothpicks, and everything shifted a little. I was shocked and saddened, but the rain was falling too hard to go out and check it out. Besides, I was a little scared of more trees coming down on me.

Today, I went out and checked it out. So many trees down in Atlanta right now that this one is not a priority, so we won’t even call a tree removal service yet…they’ll laugh at us. Tree removal, fill dirt added, topsoil, fence repair. It will be interesting to see how our shade profile changes with the loss of yet another poplar. Some shade plants were spared; I will go into the area and grab them; a pretty yellow-green Hosta, and some beloved wild ginger plants. I’m already considering the landscaping possibilities, though this is a bit down the line.

Beyond that, I knitted through the hurricane. I cast on for Bonnie Marie Burns’ “Iba” sweater (link) and got through the neckband, and then did a bunch on the raglan line, only to realize that I was screwing up the edging and central back rib pattern, and so I ripped it back to the neckline. Gah…metaphor for my life. One step up, two steps back.

Today, we are off again, for more rain, and diminishing winds. I will write my long-postponed lesson plans, and read 2 chapters for the Master Gardener class. I could use another day, but I suspect DeKalb will pull itself together…we really didn’t get hit that badly.

I feel the intense need for a stash fluff, as I have seen a moth in the office. Inspection of the yarn and fiber reveal no presence of moths, but I am paranoid. I have some cedar oil, and will oil down the inner part of the cedar chest where the fiber stays, and re-inspect everything. Most likely (I keep telling myself) it’s a stray ball of yarn or bit of fluff that has found its way under the couch or chair that’s growing moths. Still, my terror rises.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

so it begins...in which i make resolutions about work-life balance

School, at least for teachers, started last week. Kids come in tomorrow. Given that we had a packed schedule full of meetings, registration, and no occupancy permits for trailers til Friday, I don't think the first week went half bad. A building full of new staff, including 10 new teachers, so there's the potential for fresh happy attitudes.

I am already hearing the rumbling of job dissatisfaction and griping about admin, via social media, though, so I'm remembering that this is the year that I'm going to re-set my boundaries...

1.  Ground, shield, and center before my feet touch the pavement of the school property. Do NOT tap into the crazy. I can't be effective in my work when I'm sucking up my colleague's complaints, my administrator's pendulum-like energy, and the simmering vibrations of 1000 children. Yes, all this sounds woo-woo. But I just do better by taking a moment.

2.  Make mornings less frantic. Pre-cook breakfasts for the week in the form of baked oatmeal, shoyu eggs, grabbable fruit. Pack lunch the night before. Have my clothes ironed, and ready to wear. I allow myself 45 minutes to actually prepare myself, and I don't want to spend 15 of that running around trying to assemble food, and deciding what to wear.

3.  Be outside as much as possible. There is no need to spend traveling time using the halls on campus. Outside time makes me happy. Eat lunch on the porch of the trailer if the weather is at all pleasant. Open doors and windows.

4.  Purge, purge, purge. My trailer and my office are jam-packed with teaching materials that I no longer use. Re-home this shit. I was supposed to do that last year, but last year was a battle of motivation and moods even to figure out what my job was, as a writing teacher, so this year, I will start anew with the shedding years of teacherhoarding. I'm hauling the stuff to the thrift stores, too, not dithering around waiting for coworkers to decide whether or not they may need it. I will set up a box, labeled "OUT" and when it's full (or easily carry-able by me up to my car) I will drive by the donation center en route home.

5.  4:00 is go-time. Gym time, walk time, yoga time. Last year, I worked so late, getting so little done, spinning my wheels, and then I'd go home exhausted and depressed. This year, I'm just going home. I am under no illusions that I can bail every day at 3, but I CAN make a cup of tea and work til 4 and call that my late days. By setting 4 as my exercise time, I'll be more likely to get out. I may need to stay later for Nature Club and school gardening, but since that's my pet project, that's the exception.

6.  Initiate Project Z. Get some sleep. Screens off by 8pm, soothing music, chamomile tea, clean bedroom, melatonin, whatever it takes to get some Z's.

7.  Pace myself. Stay on top of lesson plans, grading, deadlines. This is so very not in my wheelhouse, but I'm going to try, if for no other reason than to save my Sundays from being hysterical spinning.

There. I've put it down there. I want to reassess how this is working, after a few weeks, not because I want to scale back any of it, but because I need to recommit to it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

mast year

It's that hot, humid, rainy, intense part of the summer, where I find myself not really wanting to go outside, and then coating myself with mosquito repellant, pushing out there, and being glad I did. Still, it takes effort. We live at the confluence of 2 creeks, slow-moving Georgia streams, and in some thick kudzu-bounded woods. Muggy and mosquitos are our 2 Ms, down here.

From the looks of it, it is going to be a mast year; acorns are already ripening and falling, and for the first time I can remember, in the 8 years we've lived here, our beech tree is loaded down with beech nuts.

I've not tasted them; they are tiny, and seem mostly shell, under the prickly coating. I assume they are edible, assume the local Creek people ate them, in the past. 

While I find a mast year exciting, in the sheer number and variety of acorns underfoot, it does seem to be associated with increases in tick-borne illnesses. Any increase in rodents around here is sobering, as we live in a house with a crawlspace that's adjacent to the basement, and rats sometimes attempt to set up shop in our living space. Fortunately, I am not squeamish about the snappy trap, and thus am able to keep the little bastards at bay. 

Today is hot and still already, at 7:30am. I am going to try to maintain a steady pace of housework and practical activity today, as I have to be back at work on Monday. It is past the time when I should be taking the river cure, or savoring the "last ice cream" or the "last walk in the woods" or somesuch. I am just trying to have a little bit of grip on my sanity for the next few weeks...

Monday, July 24, 2017

snapshot of a summer

And it has gone by so dang fast...I have 8 weeks off each summer, and somehow, this one seemed shorter than previous ones. My usual plan is to drive to VA for 2 weeks, visit family and friends, then come home, get some kind of plane ticket out of the country for a couple more weeks, and then come home, collapse in exhaustion, til it's time for the back to school panic.

I decided to be smarter, this year, and besides, we're saving money for a trip to Spain next spring. I took my VA road trip, and then came home and lived my life in a very low-key, locally based way. I went to bed each night at 10pm. I got up each day at a reasonable hour. I ate most of my meals at home, and fought depression by staying busy, swimming, and not quitting the St. John's Wort. For the most part, I stopped drinking. I nursed my Plantar Fascitis, which repaid my loving care by feeling a teeny bit better. I broke up with my true love, sugar. We still aren't speaking much. I lost 5 pounds, and cleaned out (and am still cleaning) my office. I am more or less even keel.

Here are some highlighty pix of the good times at home...
Paddling on Stone Mountain Lake on the Glorious Fourth. Maybe the hottest, most tired I've been all summer. I was seriously sad, at this point, and about to bonk. I still had a long paddle to the landing. 

A Zinnia in the Doraville Unity garden. Wonder what happened to its other petals? 

Red kayak, a big part of my happy little staycation. Taken in a lake that's very close to our house. 

I went to the Mystic South Conference this weekend. Here is a workshop I attended: Empathic Self Defense. Pretty interesting talk, on ways not to let other people's crazy energy glom onto oneself. I need it for work, I think, as well as for certain sectors of my non-immediate family. 

Inspired by Mystic South, I did some landscaping and made a little Faerie space, complete with a tree stump altar and a guardian. 

Now summer is damn near gone. I've got a pile of books on my nightstand to read, still, it's in Georgia's ferocious humid heat season, now, and I'm turning my energy toward finding my school year rhythms. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Unfuck Your Habitat is my new favorite site...encouraging as I try to unfuck my own surroundings. I like that it breaks daily tasks down to elements like "unfuck your morning" which has you laying out clothes and putting your keys in an obvious place. 

My sis is coming into town for a visit, and the weekend is unbelievably slammed, not my favorite thing, but I couldn't reschedule some of it. sigh. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Update on life

Hey, mid-to-late April here, and I'm buried at work in testing children, but we're coming to the end of the school year, so that's something.

Swim lessons went well, and I'm finishing them up this week. Hey, I can swim!!! I'm swimming laps, now, not fast, not graceful, but it has become a do-able thing in my life. That feels good...

Last night, I went to bed early, around 8:30. As I was tucking into my "Fellowship of the Ring" re-read, my friend Yoli called me from CA. We caught up; I adore Yoli, and we don't see each other nearly often enough. One of the things she shared with me was that our other friend, a lady we'd taught with for years, had been in a serious car accident, one which took the life of her sister, who was one of her few living relatives, and left her in a coma for 3 weeks, so that she didn't even know what happened. She woke up, in a care home, with a tube in her throat, and her 4 extremeties in casts, and the news that her sister was gone. Damn. She is 71. Yoli's rounding up friends to write her, and rally round her. I can't even imagine...but it's all too real. We have no idea what will happen from day to day.

This, 5 days before my sister comes to visit me, and while my husband is driving home from Florida. I want to call them both and say "Stay off the road, stay alive, I want you to be safe..." but I don't. I act normal. I call them, and just have mundane conversations, punctuated by "I love you's" and "I miss you's."

I am working hard, this week, at trying to find ongoing inspiration to continue unfucking my habitat. I am making some headway, but it's slow going.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring Breakin'

It is April, it is rainy, it is Monday, it is my Spring Break. I'm sitting in my messy office, the Clamcave (feminine version of the Mancave) in the middle of a rearrangement, and taking a think-break, namely because the placement of hardscape (furniture and shelving) baffles me; maybe I had the only workable arrangement already? Nevertheless, I wanted a change, and need a setup that doesn't require a complete rearrangement every time my sister comes to stay, so I can put out the futon couch...

The weekend was auspicious and wonderful. I went on retreat with my spinning guild, stayed at a cozy conference center lodge, took long walks in glorious weather, earthed myself in cool moss, and spun a lot. What I didn't do was sleep well, but that was to be expected, maybe. I made new friends, cemented old friendships, and ate a lot of great food, drank wine, finished knitting my long-languishing Ringwood gloves, and in general, reclaimed my spinning mojo. Always good.

Now I'm home, and trying not to be too unproductive, for the remainder of the week.

In other news, all my observations for school were completed, with good scores. I've been fighting a tendancy toward personal negativity at work; hoping the break helps me raise my spirits and my sense of buy-in and vision about my workplace a bit. Things are kinda shitty at work, not affecting me personally, but politics, testing burnout, and the seeming disconnect between admin/staff/students/parents is tiring in a low-level, depressing way. A hard look at my finances with my financial advisor confirmed my suspicion that I don't have nearly the $$ to retire, and so I soldier on...but I'd like to do so with some more enthusiasm. Meaningful work would be awesome. My work is socially redeeming, but is it meaningful to ME anymore? This, I ponder. But the good news is that we have a little less than 2 months left, and the evaluations are in, so I can breathe a little bit. The downside is that in 2 weeks, the over-emphasized state tests will start; 2-3 weeks of endless, grueling examination; the culmination and disruption of all our learning for the year.

My little break is over. Tonight, I go to my first swim lesson at the Y. I am taking this adult swim class to improve swimming technique, because I want to start swimming laps. Part of me dreads getting into that cold pool tonight. I think I'll have to park in the hot tub beforehand to make it even bearable...