Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Life in One Day

6:02 AM
Chuck wakes me with, “It’s 6 AM in Orem, Dear.”  One major adjustment I have needed to make to life with Chuck is that he can’t bear alarm clocks.  He says he lies awake all night, waiting for it to go off.  Strangely, I have never had that problem.  But, if I tell him before we go to sleep what time I want to get up, he will get me up.  He has been awake for a little while, I discover.  He has already put kettle on to boil.  He tells me that he loves me, and I roll out of bed.  Onto the scale:  123.  Downstairs to wake up the kids.  It is snowing hard, and has been since yesterday, so I want to leave a few minutes early.  No way am I going out to the mailbox for the newspaper!  It is only about 1/8 of a mile, but why bother?  The paper will be late, anyway.   Yesterday’s paper is good enough when accompanied by Cheerios.
The kids and I get going.  The snow is deep and it is too early for Chuck to have plowed.  We slog out to the creek and cross the bridge.  In anticipation of this morning, I parked my car out near the highway overnight.  The county plows have come by, so I am able to get out without trouble.  Nathan often says disparaging things about my tiny car, but I have to say:  with good snow tires, that Fiat is almost as good as a four-wheel drive. [knocking on wood...] I have a little trouble where the road into Wasatch Resorts meets the highway, skidding sideways; but I muscle it through.  We inch along in the poor visibility, but I get Sara to school on time. 
Drop off Sara and make my way over to the church from where my son’s school bus will depart in about an hour.  The storm is lifting and the parking lot is being cleared by a man in a pickup with a blade.  I keep my eye on him and, when he has cleared out one part, I move my car over to that part.  I write in my planner and Nate and I stay warm, wrapped in blankets.  

The plow driver stops by to check on me.  Am I OK?  Yeah, just waiting for the bus.  However, the bus is late. 

8:20, 8:25, 8:30…  

OK, I’ll just drive Nate to school.  I never go to the front of the school, because that is the realm of the othermothers:  tense; on their phones; driving huge Ford Excursions; lined up in procession to drop their kiddos off right in front of the door.  I go to the street that borders the schoolyard at the back.  This road is steep, though.  The Fiat has finally met its match. I inch slowly higher and higher, spinning my wheels while Nate says, "I can get out here, Mom.  Mom, it's OK.  I can get out here."  I have to bail halfway up the hill and back down, pulling into a driveway.  Nate clambers out and is on his way. 
Me too.  To the rec center and into the cardio room. 
I am on the recumbent bike, having my lazy day:  fat burning.  Neener-neener!  I only have to keep my heart rate at 114, so I read “Wild” as I pedal.  Fat-burning days are how I get my books read! 

Drive to Michael’s craft store.  At work, we are making a giant, flag-shaped mural on which the students will write the reasons they came to the USA.  I load up on different shades and textures of red, white and blue paper.  The star cutouts are not what I want:  too big and too regular.  Maybe we can cut them down…

Drive to work.  The sun is out, but the roads are still deceptively slick.  I dodge slide-offs and accidents the whole way into downtown.  Cars collide at high speed, sending bits of plastic flying.  

Get to work and change clothes.  Coffee.  Food in the fridge. 

I don’t get a ton of time in the office today!  Here’s all I get done:

Clean.  This has to be done in small bites when I get the chance.  Today I clean the crap out of the printer alcove, the top of the lateral file and the shelf where we keep our US Citizenship and Workplace English materials.  I find things like a back-brace…a big juice pitcher (still dirty)…gift bags…

I e-mail each member of the professional staff and report to them on how they are doing at working their budgeted hours this year.  I don’t know what the deal is:  maybe it is generational; but the teachers routinely do not work all the hours that they are hired for.  The job is 17 hours per week.  I have tried to explain to them that, if they think that working really fast and then taking off to do something more fun is helping us by “saving money”, it isn’t.  All it means is that the budget will get cut next year and their jobs will be for fewer hours. Then it will be harder for me to hire the next teacher who comes along, because the job will seem like a rinky-dink mini-job.  I tell each person how behind they are on their hours and make suggestions of projects here in the office that they can do if they need more responsibilities.  I give everyone until the end of March to get caught up.  I do have one teacher whose hours are spot-on; and one who is slightly over on her hours.  She apologized, and I thought, “Thank goodness!  Your overage is making up for everyone else’s underage.” 

I worked from home over the weekend, so I move all the files I took home with me back to their correct places.  

Check e-mail
Send an e-mail to Rosetta Stone, to set up a training for new staff.  Send an e-mail to the business office, complaining about how slow my Internet is.  I get kicked out or frozen up after about 10 minutes.  That’s why I take so much work home…

The few hours that I am at the office rush by. 

Pack up more work to take home with me.

I’m off to visit my friend Susan, who is a real estate agent.

It’s good to see Susan!  I haven’t seen her since my divorce.  We have a conversation about my financial situation and what sorts of options I have for buying a home.  Chuck and I are happy in Chuck’s house.  But someday we may want to move into something smaller / easier.  Should I buy something now and rent it out?  Where?  What can I afford? 

Sunny and slushy, now.  I drive south to the suburbs, stopping for gas on the way. 

I arrive at Nate’s school (again, out the back).  Put on a little makeup so I look nice when I get home.  I know, that’s backwards, huh?  Sara has to walk to Nate’s school from her school a few blocks away, but today she arrives in the mini-van of my former, pre-divorce neighbor.  Mary saw Sara walking along and picked her up.  We kill a little time, waiting for Nate.  I fill in attendance rolls.  Sara exchanges texts with Nick, her latest crush.

Nate's out of school, so we go home.  We stop for the newspaper and the mail.

I think that the first thing I will have to do when I got home is shovel the steps; but Chuck has shoveled them already.  I come in and smell the crockpot:  delicious, but scorching…!  I run over to turn it off and pour a cup of water into it.

Design a new attendance roll for one of my programs.  I hear Chuck come in.  I ask him to remind me how to activate the wireless printer.  Print the attendance roll.

Sweep and mop the bathroom floor upstairs.  Chuck’s cockatoo, Scarlett, likes to keep Chuck company in the mornings when he showers.  It’s cute, but it does result in bird crap on the floor.
I start cleaning furniture in the living room.  I know that sounds OCD; but because the sofa, chairs, etc… were here during the years of "Henrietta" and her many cats, the undersides and crevices are caked with cat hair.

Time to take Sara to soccer, about a 20-minute drive away.  The setting sun on the mountains is spectacular!  When I get back, I keep cleaning in the living room.  Chuck starts a fire in the cook stove and begins heating oil as I drive away again at 6:45 to get Sara. 

We return to a house that smells like a Mexican restaurant!  Chuck has fried taco shells from corn tortillas and made chips out of the broken ones.  We cut up lettuce, grate cheese and make tacos for supper.
I retreat to my desk to do some data entry while the kids do their homework.  Chuck helps Sara with her algebra.  I order a couple books from the library.  Sally, Henrietta's little dog, comes to visit from next door (yes, Henrietta is still there...), so Chuck and I curl up with Sally on the sofa and talk about my meeting with Susan earlier in the day. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Books are Trying to Tell me Something

Wow.  I am not happy at the similarities between me and Cheryl Strayed, that author of "Wild".  Her mother died and Strayed, in her grief, allowed her life to crumble. 

I can relate, on a smaller, more middle-aged way.  I got cancer. Dad died.  And I took everything I had and clawed at it until it was shredded and ruined, and I stepped away from it.  As I express in the title of my blog, there once was a woman who was married for 19 years.  And she really, really believed that she could be a good wife and go the distance with her husband, even though she was not happy.  That was me. Chuck came into my life and made me feel like I could start again and build something new and better, where I could belong.

I read this quote from "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbary to Chuck the other night; because it described so well the way I have felt over the last few years.

"A New Heart

I remember that summer rain.

Day after day, we pace up and down our lives the way we pace up and down a passageway."

There follows a page of text that is a list of drudgery: mundane.  Mine would be something like:  "Those socks don't match...what's your ETA?...if your father says so...there's tea in the pot...sorry...I didn't mean it...whatever you think..."

"And then, summer rain.

Do you know what a summer rain is?

To start with, pure beauty striking the summer sky, awe-filled respect absconding with your heart, a feeling of insignificance at the very heart of the sublime, so fragile and swollen with the majesty of things, trapped, ravished, amazed by the bounty of the world.

And then you pace up and down a corridor and suddenly enter a room full of light. Another dimension, a certainty just given birth. The body is no longer a prison, Your spirit roams the clouds, you possess the power of water, happy days are in store, in this new birth.

Just as teardrops, when they are large and round and compassionate, can leave a long strand washed clean of discord, the summer rain as it washes away the motionless dust can bring to a person's soul something like endless breathing.

That is the way a summer rain can take hold in you - like a new heart, beating in time with another's."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sara Goes Ice Climbing

 Sara asked Chuck if he would take her ice climbing, so they went this afternoon.  I joined in the capacity of official photographer.  By and large, I like trying new things; but I sense that ice climbing would be a perfect storm of things I suck at. I was happy to just tag along.  I had a few chores to do around the house, so I let them go about 20 minutes ahead of me.  I figured that would give them time to mess with gear, and that I would get there just as the excitement was beginning. 

Chuck planned to take Sara to a waterfall that is not on the radar of the ice climbing crowd.  Too small:  a series of three little falls; each about 8 feet high.  Perfect for beginners.  He told me, "Just follow our boot prints - you'll find us."  So I set off and followed the boot prints.  For a looooong way!  I knew the prints were theirs because there were no other human tracks in such deep snow and isolated terrain; and also because Sara would occasionally write things like, "Hi, Mom!"  or "Hey!" in the snow with her glove.

It has been bitterly cold here for the last couple of weeks, so the snow has a very strange consistency - dry as sand and just as loose.  I was wallowing in  thigh-deep powder for most of the trek. 
 This is looking back at how much I had climbed when I finally caught sight of them ahead of me.  They were still climbing themselves, struggling to break a trail. That line way down there is the canyon road.  So we clambered up the powdered mountainside.  As the going got steeper and steeper, I would grab any twig that emerged from the snow and scrabble for traction on the springy underbrush underneath me. 

I "Haloo-ed" those guys as they got close to the waterfall.  Sara called down, "Mom!  Look out for the dead deer!"  "Where?"  "Right here!  We just climbed on it!"  "I dunno, does it have hair on it, still?  I could use a little traction."  She looked disgusted.  "NO!  It's just bones and fluff!"

 Actually, I think it is a mountain goat rather than a deer.  There are a lot of them in this part of the canyon; and the bits of hide and hair I found were white and woolly.
 At any rate, here is the waterfall.  Chuck went up first, to fix the rope.  Both of them suffered badly from the cold.  Neither had great gloves,and I guess the ice makes your hands really cold.  Plus, we had been wallowing in the snow, so it was down our backs, in our boots, etc.  
 Here, Chuck is fixing the rope with ice screws.  I am right up there because I climbed up along the side of the waterfall.  More wallowing, but not slippery.
 OK, here goes Sara, on belay
She did make it to the top of the pitch and rappel back down.  But she was miserable.  Her fingers were that cold.  When she reached the bottom, she started to cry and I had to unzip my jacket and stuff her fingers into my armpits.  She has declared that ice climbing is "not for her".  It was a lot of effort in order to discover that, but oh well.  We all got good exercise. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Six Word Saturday

Lottery Potluck tonight.
River-trip permits, anyone?

December End(ed) in Pictures.

 OK!  If I use something besides "Explorer" to open my Internet, I can post my pictures.  So, here it is:  December ends in Delayed Pictures.  A bit anti-climatic, really..

 It will be sad to take the tree down today.  But it we are going to blow it up, there's not much choice.  Or at least, no choice that doesn't involve burning the house down.

 Sara likes to make toys for Chuck's cockatoo, Scarlett.  That toothpaste box is stuffed with corn flakes, then wrapped in brown paper...
 A few last minute phone calls for new students to join our Monday / Wednesday night English class.
 Staff meeting cancelled.  Yay!  Don't have to go to work on New Years Eve!
I help Chuck edit a letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune about gun control.

 Beds ready for overnight guests tonight.
 Chuck's homemade pasta is made and dried out.  We will eat homemade noodles with poppy seeds for new years day:  kluski z makiem in Polish.

 I can't decide what to wear for our big party tonight.  Finally, I choose three different get-ups, getting progressively more outrageous as the evening goes on. 
 New Years dinner will also include bigos (my all-time favorite Polish delicacy).  I add a little fresh cabbage to the bigos pot, which has been  simmering on and off for a couple of days.
 Getting the fireworks ready to put on the tree.
 I tape about 30 feet of sparklers to safely fuse and wrap the tree in it.
 Chuck is attaching fire-bombs to the fuse as well.
 Sara, making signage for our luge run, directing guests down the forest path to the sledding hill.
 Just a quick supper of burritos tonight.  I get  some roasted pork out to thaw.
 I haul the chimenea and a pile of firewood out to the luge run, so we can have a bonfire going  out there.

 Shovel the path to the hot tub, so people can have a soak if they like.

 A few Christmas thank-you letters
 We won't be doing paint ball tonight.  Chuck is selling some of his old guns. 

 Quick!  Clean up the burrito detritus and get the bar set up!
Time to get changed and ready for guests. 

Aaaaand that is where I got too busy to take pictures.  Chuck and I invited over 100 people to our place for New Years.  Total adult guests?  Three.   Not counting the two guests that came half-an-hour early and stayed for 20 minutes before leaving to go some place else.

But, our friend Cliff was there with his kids; my daughter invited a bunch of friends... It turned into a teenager party. But they had a great time:  sledding; hot tub; mock-tails (I still have several bottles of sparkling wine, due to shortage of adults); shooting pool; Karaoke (Cliff and I did "California Dreamin'").  And at midnight, we lit the fuse on the Christmas tree.  The fireworks were great!  But the tree did not burn:  too fresh.  I'm thinking that we should take the tree and stick it down in the ravine for the summer, then bring it back for next year. It will probably be in perfect shape for a conflagration by that time...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch

Well, I was all set to (finally!) post my "December Ends on Pictures" post (after all, it's less than a week into January...), but for some reason, Blogger will not allow me to load pictures from my computer.  So many options!  Would I like to load pictures from my blog? 
Why would I want to do that?  Those pictures are soooo yesterday.
From a URL? 
No, from my desktop would be fine.
From a Picassa site?  From my web cam?  From my phone? 
Nah.  How 'bout from my computer?  Like we usually do? 
Sorry, not today.
Soooo...  I have just started visiting a blog called Everyday Rurality  and she has a linkie-poo to some questions.  This is called "Chats on the Farmhouse Porch". Since I live in a barn with a porch; and since that porch has a nice swing (well, it's nice in the summer); and since my muse is experiencing technical difficulties, I will play this game instead.  So there, photo loader. 
  1. Do you make New Years resolutions?
Not really. I make Bedtime Resolutions.  These take place at the end of the day when I stand in the shower and think about how much I need to improve myself.  Tomorrow.  Tomorrow is a new day and I will reform my behavior as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning.  Really.
2.  What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Hoo boy.  Can we leave my work stuff out of it?  Not really.  I am the director of an adult education program - mostly English as a Second Language. I am so goal-oriented at work and I have to write so many reports about what I am going to accomplish and whether I have accomplished it that I feel like I am kind of talked out on that topic.  Let's just say that the students will have phenomenal attendance, retention and progress.  That we will lay more groundwork for vocational and post-secondary education; that we will track job progress and attainment; that we will have excellent volunteer involvement. 
As far as my other life is concerned, I would like to sew curtains for Sara's room and the guest room.  I would like to marry Chuck on a day this summer when he, I and all four of our children can attend.  I would like to save enough money to pay for a trip to Spain this year; or a trip to New Zealand next year.  I would like to successfully pull off our journey down the Grand Canyon next November. 
3.  Tell me about your favorite place to think, create, or just relax.

My Cozy Spot.  I'm sitting in it right now.  A blue futon in front of the wood stove, which is faithfully cranking out heat.  Braided rug at my feet.  Cup of tea perched on the little table at my elbow.  Standing lamp with a  "Grandma Moses" shade.  The nighttime French doors beside me reveal nothing in the blackness in the back yard but reflect back to me the shimmering lights from all the Christmas strings we still have suspended all over the inside of the barn.  And YES!  OK!  Just now, I realized that I have a picture of the cozy stove that I had posted in an earlier blog entry, and I DID load the picture "From my bog". I admit it. 
4.  Are you a fan of old movies? (Like the ones that were originally black and white.)
Not really. Or more accurately: not specifically.  Some, I like; some, I don't.
5.  Tell me something that made you happy since our last porch visit. If you're new to the chats, tell me something good that has happened to you lately.
Things that have made me happy in the last 24 hours. My family loved the Cashew Chicken I made for supper. I successfully baked Oatmeal Pecan Pie in the wood stove. Look out! Here comes another picture!
 Chuck went to the gym with me and showed me a fun way to do crunches with the medicine ball.  Sign-up for the Family Literacy Program and the Monday / Wednesday program are both looking good, and I hope both will be filled to capacity when I close enrollment in a couple weeks. I got to sleep late this morning.
And now, I shall get everything laid out and ready for a busy day tomorrow.  I will take care of my daily accounts and expenses.  I will set up my crock pot.  I will curl up with Chuck and we will talk nonsense until we fall asleep.  Bliss.

Saturday, January 5, 2013