Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I go back to work tomorrow....  I had a different plan.  I was going to teach reading last year and then get a job as a classroom teacher.  I applied for jobs and did get one interview, where the principal was encouraging but didn't offer me the position.  I will continue to apply for classroom positions, but the clock has run out and for now I need to return to the job I had last year.

Some things have changed.  There will be no lunch recess duty for anyone because there will be no formal mid-day recess, which is a good thing.  Classroom teachers will be responsible for taking their own students out for recess during the course of the day.  I like that I will spend more time teaching.

Another thing that has changed is the location of the literacy classroom.  The room this year is half the size, a long narrow room with no windows and just one door at one end.  There is space for only one teacher so I will hit the road and work with students in their grade-level classrooms.  That's okay with me; I will enjoy being out and about throughout the day.

I very much wanted my own classroom this fall, but there are trade-offs that work to my advantage.  I haven't had to go into school yet because I don't have a classroom to set up or curriculum to align with standards or lesson plans to write.  I have squeezed every last moment out of summer vacation because there literally isn't anything for me to do to prepare for students.

During the school year I will have plenty time to dedicate to taking a graduate class or two.  My certification is up for renewal next summer and I still need continuing education units toward that.

Perhaps the best trade-off is that I will have the flexibility to be available when my daughter needs me in November.  She has given me the okay to share that she is pregnant.  She is an independent woman and capable of doing this on her own, so I am on deck to help how and when she asks.  It has been fun to be in on some of the preparations.  I do my best to maintain a calm exterior, but between you and me I am wicked excited!

Sometimes I make plans and the universe has a better idea....    

Saturday, August 22, 2015

August Transition

The first few years I taught I looked forward to and dreaded summer in equal parts.  I looked forward to unscheduled days with my kids, warm sunny weather, time to do the things I enjoyed, and the chance to catch up on all the appointments and home maintenance I didn't have time for during the school year.  I would hit the ground running the day after school ended and go full tilt until the day school started up again.  I wore myself out and never felt like I got everything done.

At some point I figured out that I couldn't save all the fun stuff or all the chores for the time between school years.  I was curious to see if I could remember to live that lesson this summer.

It helped that Ken and I left on vacation just two days after school ended in June.  The trip was literally a "break" in my routine and took us to places we hadn't been before.

It was a summer for a variety of firsts.  Ken and I bought season tickets to the Maine State Music Theater, a slate of four performances at the theater on Bowdoin College Campus.  The musicals this summer were The Full Monty, Sister Act, The Music Man, and Young Frankenstein.  We enjoyed each one and the fun story lines were especially appreciated.

The two quilting retreats were another first for me.  Each experience took me out of my comfort zone and gave me the opportunity to stretch.  It was fun to learn new techniques, meet quilters and designers whose work I admire, and work beside women I wouldn't have met otherwise.

The retreats gave me something else too ~ the joy I feel when I create and sew.  I had forgotten that just twenty minutes of sewing gives me a chance to change gears and recharge.  Even working at twenty-minute intervals projects move forward, and during the time in between I'm thinking about and planning what comes next. 

I haven't rushed to finish anything this summer.  Like quilting, life is a work in progress.
Slow Stitching block for Color Quilt

Block in Completely Cauchy style

"Roberta" block for Color Quilt

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Slow Stitching Retreat

The Slow Stitching Retreat, made possible by Samantha Lindgren of A Gathering of Stitches, happened this past weekend in Washington, Maine.  The setting was a picturesque camp, complete with cabins, lodge, fire circle, and paths through the woods.  We were privileged to spend the weekend with Chawne, groundbreaking quilter of Completely Cauchy, and Carolyn Friedlander, talented designer of fabric and patterns.  We learned techniques together, had meals together, and enjoyed the slow pace and slow stitching together.  The weekend was made all the better for me because my daughter was able to attend, too.  She and I rarely have time to sew together, so we made the most of the opportunity. 

The porch of the lodge, perfect for rocking and slow stitching
The barn, where we asked "How small can we go?"
Lots of room to work in the barn
My small log cabins made of Shot Cotton, 2.25" square unfinished
Work space, with good light in the lodge, to cut applique
Basting stitches in red, applique stitches in off white
Appliqued halfway around the outside edge
Finished "Roberta," at 15" square my smallest quilt yet
Again, I came home from a quilting retreat with a new perspective. 

It never occurred to me that I could get so much satisfaction in going smaller in my quilting; I am using techniques I learned this weekend in my work started at the July retreat.  I will share that project in my next post. 

I have always shied away from applique because I didn't know where to begin, much less how to get a pleasing finished look; now I know where to begin and with each stitch I am more satisfied with my technique.

I have been sewing since I was a little girl.  In learning as I go I didn't learn the secret to how to thread a needle, which Night Quilter explains here, or any of the various tips I've picked up while working with other sewers.  It's fun to share stories and ideas and shortcuts.  It's fun to ask, "How small can you go?" and watch quilters finish complete blocks that are smaller than 3" square.  I'm sewing the skinniest strips I never imagined because I picked up hints on how to do that this weekend.

I realized months ago that this summer was going to be different from what I envisioned.  When Chawne mentioned this Slow Stitching Retreat on her blog, I followed the link.  My daughter was able to go, so we made plans.  Return visits to Samantha's blog turned up the Quilters Color Weekend.  I am grateful for the timing of these retreats and for the opportunity to work with the teachers and quilters I have had the pleasure to meet. 

Sometimes change needs a push....

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Imposed Interlude

I'm back online after almost two weeks of internet trouble.

It started with an early morning thunderstorm.  The internet went out for several hours.  Then it came back intermittently.  Over a period of days I made several attempts to troubleshoot with tech support.  When I reported there was static on the phone, it was determined that a lineman should be dispatched, which took several more days.

By the time the lineman arrived Wednesday morning the internet was completely gone and the phone was all but unusable.  The good news was that everything up to the pole was in good working order.  The bad news was that something was definitely wrong in the house.  It wasn't his job to diagnose inside problems but he made phone calls to tech support to check numbers to narrow down where the problem might be.  He suggested we upgrade the underground wiring from the pole to the house.

I left for a long weekend and returned to find Ken had pulled new wire.  The good news was that the connection on the outside of the house produced a perfect signal, confirmed when Ken hooked the modem up outside.  The bad news was that there was still no internet in the house and there was still static on the phone.

We started troubleshooting inside, checking connections in phone jacks and locating where the wire comes into the house.  With the help of a mirror, we pulled the wiring up and out of the junction box downstairs.  One of the wires had broken off.  It's a wonder we had internet and phone for as long as we did.

It has been a solid day and a half with internet connectivity and static-free phone service.  Do I dare say the problem is solved?  It's good to be back.

News from the Slow Stitching Retreat coming soon ~