Tuesday, July 30, 2013

So I Sew

A week ago we received a new phone modem.  So far so good with the internet connection. 

I am not nuts about the ring tone of the new phone, but I don't see a way to change it.  I need to record a message for the answering machine, but that means I need to read the manual.  I got as far as setting the time and date.

It took ten days for the tv and dvd player to reach the repair center.  No word yet if they can be repaired.  That process is moving more slowly than anticipated.  It's not that we watch that much tv, but we do enjoy watching dvds and streaming Netflix.

These are small inconveniences compared to what could have happened during that storm...or what could happen at any time really.  Eight days ago a house two miles down our road burned beyond repair.  The news report said the fire started in the basement and they may never know why.  Thankfully the family was camping for the weekend.  The house was less than two years old.

Millie the cat has good days and not so good days.  Some days she eats and other days she is not hungry.  She just jumped in my lap. It's amazing she still likes me, for all the medication I've dosed her with.  I get down on the floor and pet her.  I'm worried about her.

My elderly friend in town has been in the hospital since Sunday.  She is not feeling up to par, so they are working to get her back on track.  Each day the doctor has said she might be discharged.  I hope she's able to come home tomorrow.

Too many things I can't do anything about.  So I sew.  Before I left for Vermont I spent an entire day laying out the squares I had constructed for the Harmony Quilt.  I decided I wanted a solid color to border each nine block, each one different and with no pattern in how they are arranged.  I'm still looking for harmony in the chaos ~

My very favorite among all my favorites
Two nine blocks side by side

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Re-entry Can Be Rocky

I forgot how hard it is to come home from Goddard.  I can bring the ideas back with me, but the camaraderie and conversations are nearly impossible to duplicate.  For me, there is no substitute for sitting with like-minded souls who have time to let the conversation evolve.

Several of us made the commitment to work on a project through email.  This is complicated for me because they want to use google docs and I'm not set up to do that just yet.  My hope was to get an account in place this weekend...

But I returned home to no internet at my house.  There was a severe thunder storm Wednesday night, and by all accounts the lightening show was fierce.  Apparently lightening struck somewhere important to the DSL component of our telephone line because the modem, the wireless phone system, and the TV/DVD system with internal modem are all burnt out.  No lights.  No internet.

I hadn't been home an hour when I was on the phone to our phone company; thank goodness we keep old-fashioned plug-in phones for just such an event.  They will ship us a new modem and it should be here Monday...no, make it Tuesday.... So no internet at home until then.  I like a nice coffee shop with free wifi as much as the next person, but I am really missing internet at home.

We replaced the phone system.  Of course the new model is not compatible with the previous one, so all new phones were needed.

The TV/DVD player are being assessed by the Geek Squad at Best Buy.  They will call next week to tell us what's what, repair or replacement.  It will be a week after that before we get a voucher for one or both, depending how much is covered by the plan Ken purchased.

So life takes a u-turn from all that I planned to write and do once I got home.  My head is full of ideas and things I want to share.  I thought if I shared more here, it would keep the motivation alive.  I will attempt to keep a rhythm going until I have regular online access again.

Meanwhile I am wistful for all that happened in Vermont.  I will continue to study and write.  I can try to duplicate the crab cakes I had for dinner at the New England Culinary Institute, although it's worth another trip to Montpelier for a meal there.  I came home with titles of books, some of which I already own, to read and websites to visit.  My computer skills will be tested as I set up accounts and work with spreadsheets, but I'm up for the challenge and can call on my local expert, aka daughter, to help.

The frustration has somewhat lessened as plans have been put in place.  I am reminded once again that life happens.  This too shall pass....    

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Vermont In July

I forgot how long it takes to get here.  Plainfield is a five-hour drive from my house, 250 miles on interstate and secondary roads that go south then north, south and north again through the hills of Maine and the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont.

I forgot how hot it can get here when there is no breeze, landlocked in the mountains.

I arrived Monday evening in time for dinner.  I sat alone at a table by the window so I could watch passers-by on the sidewalk outside and diners as they entered the cafeteria.  I recognized no one, yet I felt completely at ease.. 

It is the place that feels familiar.

Tuesday was a day of workshops and meetings.  I had conversations and made connections.  At lunch I sat with new colleagues who shared like old friends.

Like smoke through my pores, the sense of possibility seeps into my system.  Stories are told and attention is given.  Questions linger.  Positive feedback is commonplace. 

Today started with a memorial service for a beloved member of the faculty.  The Goddard community is like the best kind of family.  Grief is shared, joy is celebrated, and all are welcome.

The rest of the day consisted of a dozen sessions on a range of educational topics led by current students and alumni.  With little preparation and few props, attendees shared ideas and posed questions about teaching through writing, democratic education, international schools, historiography [the history of history], and action research.  We challenged ourselves and supported each other, the way we learn as students of Goddard.

For the first time I am staying in a hotel instead of on campus, something I promised myself I would do the next time I made the trip.  The air conditioning feels good after a day without it.  A delicious meal in a favorite restaurant was a welcome change from cafeteria fare.  The king-sized bed is a bonus.

The conference wraps up tomorrow morning.  Then it's back to reality.  I still have questions, and I am okay with that. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Getting There Is Half The Battle

Friday evening I talked to a neighbor I haven't seen for several months.  She lives two miles down the road and I wanted to know if she could look in on Millie the days I will be gone this week.  She isn't able to help but it was good to catch up with her.  The conversation inevitably turned to my job search.  I heard myself say that I take responsibility for the situation I'm in ~ I made decisions along the way that have brought me to this place and, while I would do things differently if I could go back, the only way is forward.

The universe winked at me today when someone who knows me very well gave me a card that says:

Is willing to accept
that she creates her own reality
except for some of the parts
where she can't help but wonder
what the hell she was thinking

                                               Brian Andreas

This evening I have been reflecting on that, while packing and getting the house in order.  Fourteen years ago I would move heaven and earth to get ready to leave for nine days of residency at Goddard College: solidifying family schedules, planning meals, cleaning house, and writing lesson plans for my students in addition to whatever I needed to have done for my own classes.  I looked forward to every trip back then. 

This weekend I've had to push myself to get ready to be gone for four days.  I'm going because I've made the commitment to go and deep down I know the experience will be good for me.  That doesn't mean that the doubts and disappointments haven't been front and center.  Let's say that my mood hasn't been the most pleasant.  I'd like to have someone else to blame, but it's all on me.

It hasn't helped that Millie isn't feeling well.  I took her to the vet Friday, and she's dehydrated again.  It looks like there will always be certain things we have to do to keep her healthy, and tomorrow I will get a lesson on how to inject her with fluid.  I really don't want to do this, but I made the commitment to take care of her and this is part of that.  My daughter has generously offered to look in on her every evening, so I know Millie will be fine while I'm gone.

I will be fine, too.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Reluctant Gardener

You can find hostas in gardens and yards all over the state of Maine.  We planted hostas at the edge of the woods because they are hardy plants with deep roots that grow in any type of soil, even the rock-filled clay soil on the hill near my house.  Although I regularly enhance the dirt with peat moss, green sand, compost, and topsoil, it has been a challenge to entice other perennials to survive the summer and perform a return engagement.  I keep track of what I've planted, what comes back and what doesn't.  The hostas always come back....
And that has become a problem.

I woke up one morning just before the start of summer to discover that overnight deer had eaten almost every leaf on almost every hosta plant on the hill.   I was going to wait and watch the leafless stalks come back to life.

Then July 4 I saw that deer had started nibbling the leaves on a hydrangea plant my daughter gave me last year for Mother's Day.  My research indicated that deer eat some kinds of hydrangeas.  Beyond that I learned that deer will munch on plants that may not be their first choice if those plants are in the vicinity of the main course.  If a gardener wants to protect a plant, a preferred strategy is to surround that plant with varieties that are deer resistant.

My hydrangea now resides in a flower bed near the house, surrounded by lemon balm, day lilies, astilbe, dianthus, and echinacea.  I wasn't fast enough to move every potential delicacy in time; the monkshood is gone, another plant that is not supposed to be on the menu.

So I am in the process of digging up and discarding every hosta planted on the hill.  I need to replace them with plants that are confirmed as deer resistant.  Ken suggested we call it "Astilbe Hill."

I am calling this the summer of Jeff's revenge.  Jeff is the boxer mix who lives next door and has been banned from my yard because he challenged my daughter's dog, who stays on leash in our yard.  Jeff used to relieve himself on my hostas and, while I wasn't a fan of that behavior, apparently it kept the deer away.   Other remedies have not been able to replace Jeff's natural deterrent, and while I know the hostas will grow back the same cannot be said about other plants.

This is all very discouraging for me, a reluctant gardener on a good day.  Working in the dirt doesn't come naturally to me.  I ask lots of questions of lots of people.  I check reference books and online resources.  Our current setting is mostly shade, which presents another problem when hosta varieties are no longer a viable choice.

It's disheartening to have little to show for five summers of work on a small garden on the side of a hill.  I don't mind all the digging, root pulling, and rock throwing if I know that I will have something to show for my labor.

As the heat wave recedes, I will get back to work.  Luckily I know where I can buy locally grown astilbe plants ~