Friday, August 9, 2019

Dream Realized

Any time I mentioned to anyone that I was planning a trip to Edinburgh, the response was, "Oh, what a lovely city." To a person everyone said they enjoyed their stay there and wanted to go back.

I feel the same way. My sister and brother-in-law were hosts extraordinaire, showing me as many aspects of the city as possible in seven days. We saw popular sights, as well places off the beaten path. The food was amazing, classic Scottish fare as well as Indian and Italian and delicious salads. We walked miles every day, rain or shine. The second day I was there was the hottest day on record, a sunny 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit. That was the day we went to Edinburgh Castle, where we enjoyed the coolness of stone buildings and a breeze off the water.

I love Edinburgh. If it was a city in New England I would be lobbying to move there. I knew from day one that I wouldn't be able to totally capture the city, but I could capture glimpses. I will forever remember my first trip to Scotland and hope to return someday.

 The Queen's House, where she stays when she visits the city~

The oldest close, or dead-end alley, is Bakehouse Close~

Many streets are "paved" with cobblestones~

The oldest part of the University~

The mix of old stone with new construction is striking~

A free Sunday evening concert by Odora Trio at St. Giles Cathedral~

The Botanical Gardens sprawled for acres with native plants~

That's what the climb was like up Arthur's Seat~

I made it most of the way up Arthur's Seat, high enough to wonder at the city below~

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A Trip Long Planned

Almost 11 years ago my sister and her husband moved to Edinburgh, Scotland. They went for 3 years so he could do research and teach at the University. They loved it. When the grant ended, they moved back to the States. Then there was an opportunity for them to move back to Edinburgh; they took it.

Since their first trip I have wanted to go for a visit. This is the summer to go. I fly tonight.

I bought my ticket in April and have been mentally planning for weeks. There were phone calls to make to the bank, credit card company, and cell provider; money to exchange; check-ins with AAA to make sure I had my ducks in a row; lists to write, check off, and write again. I have laid out what I'm taking, and now it's time to pack.

I will take a bus from Portland to Boston. From there I will take a straight-through flight to Edinburgh. I'm taking the leap to check my luggage, a first since another airline lost my bag five years ago. I trust it will arrive with me since we'll be on the same flight, but I'm not packing anything I can't live without just in case.

I love the idea of travel. I'm good at getting everything lined up. I always have a good time once I'm at my destination. It's the 24 hours right before take-off that are nerve-wracking. Moving through that time now, I keep my eye on the prize of seeing my sister and brother-in-law and visiting someplace new.

I figured out how to create blog posts on my phone but I'm not sure I'll take time to work on the small screen. I will post photos on Instagram @ owlinmaine.

I will definitely post here when I return. The journey continues....

Friday, July 19, 2019

A Different Kind of July

This time of year is usually prime motorcycle-riding time for Ken. May was cold and rainy, and it wasn't until summer actually started that June turned warm and sunny. July is guaranteed to be good riding weather. Ken rides back roads, up and down the coast of Maine with an occasional foray inland. It's his time to be out and about and to stop for a slice of pie at some town's diner.

Ken's outings came to abrupt stop on June 28. He had stopped for a few groceries and was on his way home when a woman rolled through a stop sign and hit Ken's motorcycle. He was okay, though the bike went down. The back fender was dented, the tail light was cracked, and the roll bar was slightly bent. A police report was filed and he rode home. We knew the bike would be out of commission while it was repaired. We were not prepared to hear that the bike was totaled. Because of its age at 21 years and because of the way Harley Davidsons are constructed, it would cost more to repair the bike than the bike is worth on paper. Aside from the costs, some parts are no longer available. The settlement is not enough to replace "Hiatt" but will be put aside in a motorcycle fund and added to until the amount meets the purchase price of a "new" used bike.

This year the usual push and pull between riding the open road and working outside is not an issue, so this July became the month to address long-neglected landscaping. Ken dug and dug, and I helped where I could when it came time to fill and fill. I haven't yet bought any new plants but have put back what was there and transplanted from the next bed that needs to be dug out. Ken has gone so far as to rebuild support for the driveway and put in railroad ties for a new raised bed for blackberry bushes. For the first time since we've lived here I feel like it's possible to have a real shade garden. Ken plans to replace the rubber squares on the steps with stone pavers this fall.

Here's what it looks like so far~


The plaque on the stone is from Quebec and says Le Jardin. The flamingos are solar lights. All the border rocks are from our property. There's more to do but this feels like a good start.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


On June 19 school ended on a high note. Twice in the last two weeks of school the principal told me how well my students had done on assessments. She tracks data for all students in the school, and while I knew my students had made progress academically I didn't realize how much improvement they had shown. I was their teacher for two-thirds of the year and it mattered that I did a good job. I was pleased they had matured socially and felt they were all ready for second grade. Students were happy. Parents thanked me for being there. It was a good experience, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to teach in that particular school.

I hit the ground running the minute school vacation started. Day one I cleared out the family room to clean and declutter. Two days later I tackled my sewing room, cleaning and organizing and pulling out fabric for my next quilt. I've tried to make time to sew at least a square each day and almost have enough to lay out to see how it looks.

The rest of the house was put in order just in time for our Boston grandchildren to come for a visit. It had been exactly a year since my son and daughter-in-law moved east. They have been incredibly busy so it was nice to relax and visit for a couple days. Piper turns three on Saturday so we will be there to celebrate with family and friends. We went down in early June to see our grandson graduate from preschool. It is pure joy to have family living close enough that we can see them regularly. Since our younger son and his wife bought a house in February, we have our choice of places to stay, which is a luxury we never imagined.

We also relish the time we spend with our daughter and granddaughter who live locally. Whether at our house or theirs, we enjoy the chance to visit and play and share meals.

Back on the home front, I decided this was the summer to attend to the flower beds. They have been neglected since I went back to teaching because I haven't wanted to spent precious summer days weeding and fertilizing the clay soil that is everywhere. As luck would have it I had a long conversation with a local gardener in early July. We have talked before but I hadn't shared the full story of what I was up against. I was startled when she said it is impossible to amend clay soil enough to make it able to support plants and flowers. She advised me to use that soil as a base and build up twelve inches with loam and compost. That's a lot of dirt! And our house is on a slope which presents another whole set of problems. Ken and I have been hard at work, and I'm almost ready to share photos of the first flower bed we have completely rebuilt.

Summer is here and anything seems possible. I love that feeling~

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Breathing Into It

I went back to work the last week in January, and the first three days I did okay. I was tired but had a lot to catch up on so needed to keep going. I had emailed lesson plans every day I was out and needed to get a handle on all of it. I'd never had bronchitis take that much out of me.

By Thursday that week I was coughing again and exhausted. I dragged myself in Friday and must have looked sick because the school secretary offered to get coverage for my class that afternoon. I made it through and called the doctor for a Saturday appointment. Pneumonia. I had pneumonia for the first time in my life. The good news was a prescription for antibiotics. The bad news was that I was down for the count again. I couldn't be on my feet for any length of time. I lost another whole weekend and missed two more days of work.

I had to get back to work on Wednesday. I did not have another day of remote lesson plans in me.

I had learned my lesson the first round and knew I needed enough rest to fully recover. I rested after work and got seven hours of sleep every night. In the past, when I'd been sick and then got back on my feet, I would zip around like a crazy woman catching up and making everything right again.

Not this time. I did what had to be done at work and took it easy at home. Ken was recovering from weeks of not feeling 100% so we kept life simple. Once we were sure we were on the mend we saw all the kids and grandkids; we took long drives and made comfort food for dinner; I was able to sit at the sewing machine. I knew we were okay when we took a long walk through a local downtown on a sunny afternoon.

A residual problem is a pain on my right side. With all the coughing I put a rib out of place or pulled a muscle or some combination of both. My massage therapist and DO are working my body through the problem. They tell me to "breathe into it." So I am ~ breathing into it.

That's really good advice for getting through all kinds of things. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Word 2019

My word for 2018 was acceptance. It was the perfect word for more reasons than I could have known. Many nights I went to sleep saying the serenity prayer: Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Ken has been retired almost a full year. People ask him if he has plans, and he responds no. People ask him if he's busy, and he says no. In good weather he goes for rides on his motorcycle. He putters in the garage. He's content.


At the end of the summer, Ken got hearing aids for the first time. The volume on the television came down. He heard what I said the first time I said it, and we had regular conversations in a normal tone. Then Ken decided he didn't like hearing everything and stopped wearing the hearing aids.


When I returned to work in September I suspected things were not going to change. I couldn't have known that expectations would be amped up and micro-managing by administration would increase. I accepted the reality, but I realized that I didn't have to live with it. There is a difference between acceptance and surrender. I didn't surrender; I made a change.

After a year with acceptance I have made it a permanent part of my way of thinking. This has already been tested and I passed. I have been sick with viral bronchitis for ten days, the sickest I have ever been with a bronchial illness. I was in bed for three days, then saw a doctor who told me to take over the counter drugs that really did very little. That was a week ago and slowly I have gotten better. I wasn't able to be up for more than a few minutes at a time until Thursday. I guess my body was enforcing the "rest" part of recovery. I missed five days of work without pay because I'm not under contract. I feel up to returning to the classroom tomorrow and will take it slow.


My word for this year came clear early on this year. I have tested it out over the last two weeks to see if it holds when life isn't cooperating with what I want to do. I had plans for January! I have projects to finish! I have family to see and places to go! The word for this year held. Through being sick and miserable I was able to find joy.

The word came to me after spending November and December with my children and grandchildren on a regular basis. My children are a joy to spend with ~ they are active, involved with family and friends, and have interesting jobs. My grandchildren find joy in dancing, playing, eating pizza and hot dogs, snow, snuggly blankets, bedtime stories, and skyping with Mimi (that's me).

While I was out of commission, I found joy in my children's regular phone calls and texts. Once I felt better, my granddaughter in Boston wanted to video chat with Mimi. Pure joy on my part.

Joy is my word for this year, and I'm planning to make it permanent, too.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Beginning Again

I have just had a ten-day winter break. It was wonderful to have time with family and time to catch up with all the things I hadn't had time to do for months.

The week before break I started a new job. I'm teaching first grade in a small school close to the coast. I first learned about the school four years ago and there are not often openings. It was just by chance that I saw the ad for this job when I did in early October. I'd had a frustrating day and checked a statewide website to see what openings there were in the area, not expecting to apply anywhere. This first grade opening was listed: a teacher needed from mid-December to the end of the year. I figured they already had someone lined up so I didn't give it a serious thought.

Things at school were not improving and there was no sign that anything was going to change. Mid-October I checked the website again and noted the ad was still active. I didn't think I had the time or energy to update my resume and get an application packet together. By the end of the month I figured I didn't have anything to lose. The closing date was October 31 so I spent the weekend before putting everything together; Ken put it in the mail for me two days before the deadline.

By the end of that week I had an interview lined up for November 6, when I faced a serious interview committee for 45 minutes of thorough questioning. I was glad to have the chance to learn more about the school but couldn't get a read on how well I did. I must have done okay because a week later I got a job offer. I accepted and two days later tendered my letter of resignation effective December 14.

In the past I have never considered leaving a class during the school year. This year was different for two reasons: the students work well together, and there is a talented educational technician in the room every day. I know the students will be fine because they will support each other, and they will have a consistent adult in the room.

It was up to me to make a change because the situation wasn't going to. I miss the people I worked with. To a person they were kind and generous as they wished me well. They all understand, which made leaving easier. People commented that I looked happier. The woman in the mirror agrees.

So here I go, truly beginning again. Let the journey continue....