March snow storm

An unexpected snow brings a quiet day to work at home. Loving it.


still staring at the trees …

redwood forest in Northern California, summer 2011

I’m not seeing the forest yet – but May is looking more and more like a writing retreat. For which I’m grateful. I’ve got some pressing deadlines between now and May 3, when my semester ends with a stack of ten portfolios, but after they’re graded … woohoo … I can turn my full attention to finishing the dissertation, then working on other writing projects and maybe a book proposal for the Eastern Shore Stories project.

I’ve thrown in applications for many, many positions – mostly university teaching positions – but also a few university admin / communications positions and now a few secondary teaching positions.  Plan B is to adjunct another year.

As much as I like the crafted life I’m living right now, I’m craving the stability of a full-time position with benefits. Or a steady part-time position with stability. The downside of adjunct’ng is that some (not all) departments seem to assume adjuncts don’t need income for anything specific … like we’re just teaching at pathetic wages to get ourselves out of the house for a few hours? For the stimulation? Don’t know … I can do all the budget projections I want, but if I don’t get the classes or they don’t make … well, then I have to find another means to keep my growth-spurting 11-year-old in skinny jeans and eating her beloved mac & cheese.

Oh well … still wandering among the trees … hope I emerge in a clearing soon.  Today I’ve been working on a grant application. Which is going very, very well.   Work is the cure.

living a life unplugged

I’m where I want to be – away from paint fumes and plaster dust – in a farmhouse where we lack television and internet, where our cell phones don’t get reception. The only reason I’m blogging is that my brother now has wireless at his house … which is down the lane from my unplugged farmhouse … so I’m living a few “wired” moments at their dining room table.

Of course – we watch DVDs on our laptops – so we’re not intentionally fasting from media. Both my brother and my parents have satellite television – thousands of channels for my kid and her cousins to watch. And now – wireless at my brother’s dining room table. It’s hard to live a life unplugged anywhere.

home renovation

I wrote too soon of the beautiful dining room with its green walls and creme woodwork … the baseboards still need painting and the furniture is still under plastic in the middle of the floor.

The newly plastered kitchen ceiling is a joy even without primer, but this afternoon my husband and father-in-law decided to have a go at the pee-green linoleum tiles that are probably original to the house – the ones that never look clean – the ones we’ve needed to get rid of for years. Guess what – getting them up isn’t as tough as everyone anticipated … which means they’re taking them all up … right now … which means no kitchen again.

Wonder what we’ll eat for dinner tonight? And where?

Wonder when I’ll turn my attention back to the play revision and the oral history project?

on hospital wireless and secret codes that can’t be cracked

The latest issue of Wired magazine has a mystery / magic / puzzles focus. Read it in the hospital while hanging out with a family member. The hospital visits explain my break from blogging, mostly because the hospital’s free wireless is sketchy and frustrating. It’s nearly impossible to send anything from there.

To pass the time, I bought some old-fashioned paper magazines and read them. The technology of print is portable with no need for an interface of any kind. Just a chair and some light to read by. I hope the web doesn’t completely eradicate paper magazines and newspapers.

But about Wired magic. One of my favorite articles in this edition of Wired is Mission Impossible: The Code Even the CIA Can’t Crack about the sculpture at the CIA Headquarters in Washington. Definitely worth a read.

gotta find a way to drain the tub

Once upon a time I worked in public relations at a children’s psychiatric hospital. A therapist colleague used to talk about stress like water in a bathtub. She said we can all handle a certain amount of stress, but if the water in our bathtub is filling up faster than the drain can drain, we start to feel it. When the water gets even with the top of the tub, it only takes a single, inconsequential drop for the water to overflow.

I’ve been thinking about this metaphor a lot over the past several days. Family stress and end-of-semester school stress and the unknowns-about-next-year stress are adding to my tub faster than it can drain. Writing helps. Surprisingly, being at school helps. I relaxed yesterday while I was on campus. Mostly, being aware helps. And being willing to ask for and receive help when I need it … that’s the hardest and most important part. Letting a friend, or even a stranger, scoop a bucket full of water from my tub is something I’m learning to accept.

For lunch yesterday, I let the good folks of Su Casa feed me. Sometimes it’s that simple.

took a day off for a walk with a friend

Actually – it was more like a mini-biathlon ( think triathlon without the swimming). My family met hers for a six-mile bike ride and picnic at Pocahontas State Park. I was nervous about my ability to bike for six miles – mostly because I’ve been physically inactive for way too many months. Lots of hills and a little rocky for my town bike – but a great ride. After the picnic, we decided to see what the mountain bike trails were like. My husband and the kids mostly biked it, but my friend and I walked. Had a great conversation. And we walked. And walked. The 1.9 mile loop we expected turned into 4 miles … and we still had to finish the six-mile bike ride. Ouch.

A couple of times we thought we were lost in the woods. Of course, Pocahontas State Park is bounded by suburbia, so we could have walked to the edge and gotten a ride back. We had cell phones. At no point were we in danger … unless my out-of-shape body decided to seize up on me. I did a lot better than I expected and feel surprisingly good today.

My friend is a writer – check out her book Useful Fools – it’s great. Amazon suggests that you buy Useful Fools with Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, if that gives you a sense of the company it keeps.

While we were catching up, I learned that my buddy is thinking about starting a blog, mostly about how nature doesn’t have to mean wilderness or a thirteen mile trek into the national forest, that engaging nature can be as easy as getting outside, walking or biking, and paying attention in your back yard or neighborhood. Or in a nearby state park.

We saw a few hawks and a beautiful black snake crossed our path.

This morning I was moodling around, thinking about friendship and the outdoors and exercise and what significance animals can have when they cross our paths. Here’s a blog about Living with Leopards. I might be tempted to try a Bengal F4 rescue if I lived alone. For now I figure that I’ve lived my live-alone / cat decade and I’m now in my live-with-family / dog decade. Maybe I’ll get a guinea pig when I reach the next decade … or a bird … or a snake.