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Showing posts from July, 2007

Mystery muse~

This is who I am.

I hear of an upcoming event. I think it sounds good. I commit to it. Then as the date is nigh, I lose enthusiasm. I think, I really don't want to do this.

This is the way I am, and I know myself. If I stick with my plans, I'm glad. If I renege, I'm glad too sometimes, but I know I missed out on something I would have enjoyed, and my friends make sure I know this, too. They know this is the way I am.

A while ago I signed up for the "Writer's Weekly 24 Hour Short Story Contest."

I heard, it sounded good, I committed.

I paid five dollars to register, comfortable with leaving that on the table should I renege.

Today is contest day. I had from noon today until noon tomorrow to write no more than 1050 words on a theme that was revealed via email at precisely 12 p.m.

I'm writing this now.

Part of me is saying, "Let it go. It's only five bucks."

The other part is saying, "Give it a shot. All you can lose is five bucks." I'll g…

Bizarre sentiment~

I stuck with Pete's plan today and tackled the "linen closet."

My "linen" closet holds cotton sheets and terrycloth towels, and assorted other things. Three bagfuls are now in the trash. I saved-- but neatly-- equally as much stuff. I will save it for six months to see if I actually use it. I already know what the answer will be, but psychologically three bags were enough for today's trash.

It was an unpleasant job, a hot sweaty job. The choices, the decisions, the dust. . .. I was proud I chose to do it instead of writing the newspaper story due today; if I didn't procrastinate on writing, I'd never get anything done around the house.

It took only a couple of hours and the closet looks as good as my "lonj - er - ay" drawer.

I decided I'd look into my "items with sentimental value." Pete says if they're important enough to keep, find a place to "highlight their importance." Makes sense; I concur: toss it or pro…

Clearing the clutter~

I'm always impressed with bloggers who post a "Books I'm Reading" list. I'm impressed with their books, some of which I have never heard of, but they sound impressive. Just the titles alone impress me.

If I had a list, it would be eclectic, with some embarassingly non-impressive sounding titles in among the impressive ones. There are some impressive books I read. I'm impressed anyway.

I'd never list the Cosmopolitan Magazines I find beside my daughter's bed when I take a nap in her room, or the magazine slop I fall prey to in the supermarket checkout line; I don't call that reading. That's how I numb my mind to fall asleep, and learn-- yet again that there is no way at all to lose belly flab without diet and exercise, along with learning a few more things "men secretly desire."

Along the lines of an embarrassing book to admit reading, I grabbed a copy of "It's All Too Much" off the "new release" shelf when I we…

Real life~

I came in from the backyard when the sky was strawberry shortcake pink. My husband was watching TV.

"The sunset is gorgeous," I said.

"I can see it out the window, " he said.

"I'm going for a walk. It's too beautiful to miss."

I headed across the street, down Cobblestone Lane. No cobblestones, just macadam against my bare feet. It's a cul de sac, a half-mile down, a half-mile back. I measured once.

The sky quickly became blueberry pie and vanilla ice cream, like the juice left on your plate after a sweet summer dessert.

I walked past the place I call "milkweed heaven" where I'd reveled in the monarch's delight this morning. Where are the monarchs now? Fluttery moths and some strange red beetles with antennae had replaced them.

Kids were not quite asleep, and I heard family noises in the houses I passed. Why do the mothers sound so harsh? I'm the soft voice in my house.

The moon was half, and I was glad that the other half, alt…

Do you know where your children are?

My daughter was home this morning, a summer Saturday.

"Aren't you going to the Cape?" I asked. She and her boyfriend spend weekends with his parents at their Cape Cod cottage. Usually she leaves after work on Friday, but not always.

"I'm waiting for my Harry Potter book," she said.

I should have known. Joanna's been an avid reader of the series since its inauguration ten years ago when she was 13.

She'd preordered a copy of the new Harry Potter book from Amazon.com. Today was delivery day.

She's a reader. The current book beside her bed is "Einstein" by Walter Isaacson. In between books like this, she's read the entire Potter series several times over.

Her brother David was eight at Harry's debut, a third grader far more interested in sports than any book he'd met so far. When he settled down with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, I thought a new era had begun; he'd discovered "reading for pleasure."

Not …

Share the pain~

My daughter Joanna called me on her way home from work. She does this to touch base, to let us know her plans.

She's 23, living home after college, which means she sleeps here Monday through Friday, is out of the house before I'm up in the morning, out until I'm asleep some nights, and away on weekends. Not a bad deal for both of us, although I love having her here. We probably talk more by cell phone and email than face to face.

We share commonalities, but we are really very different in many ways. That's why I don't write about her, usually. She's very private, and I try to respect that.

She tells me, "You have no filter, Mom!" This is usually hissed in a shocked whisper after I've offered a laughing comment in public that she feels is too . . . I don't know . . . unfiltered.

I don't agree that I have no filters, but my privacy sieve has larger holes than hers. I let more through. I learned to do this when I discovered how lonely it was to …

Life after retirement~

Seven years ago I increased my contribution to the teachers' retirement system and bought five years off my career in a move known as "taking early retirement."

When summer vacation ends, I'll have 180 days left in the profession I chose when I was in first grade.

Maybe because this is my last summer vacation that will end when school bells ring, maybe because retirement is finally close enough to count the days, maybe because I can hardly wait, I've begun to think more seriously about the question I've been asked so often: What are you going to do when you retire?

Here's all I know:

I want to write more, read more, take more pictures. Exercise more, travel more, and sleep more, or at least better. I want to live more. I want to slow down and absorb the life I've been rushing through, rushing because I had to, to get it all done.

What I don't want to do is to plan my retirement. I have done enough planning in 36 years of teaching.

I want to step sof…

In the web~

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to . . .blog. But what a beautiful web it is.

My reason for starting a blog can be found here: Who me? Blog?

Now I see there is another benefit to blogging I hadn't realized-- getting to meet people through the interconnectedness of the cyber world. I don't know how some of these nice people stumbled across my humble blog, but I'm glad they did. I followed their links back to them, and through them to others.
Not everybody finds blogs worth the time either to write or read. Personally I enjoy both. I'm discriminating; don't get me wrong. There are blogs I won't return to, just as there are books I won't finish. But there are some that have become favorites of mine, places I check at the end of a day.

Now I've been tagged. Thanks, Leslie.

Good thing I didn't write a blog post about hating to get those pass this on to six people in the next five minutes, or you will have bad luck for the rest of your …

Friday the 13th~

I never bought into Friday the 13th being bad luck. I've never bought into any superstition. I've pushed the envelope and walked under ladders. I've swept up broken mirrors without a qualm, whistling a happy tune, in fact. So far so good, and I expect no change.

My students are always quick to inform me when it's a Friday the 13th.

"Oh no!" moaned one little boy, upon hearing the date. He banged his forehead on his desk. Not the luckiest thing to do.

Another said, "I've already had bad luck. I missed the bus."

"But you're here now," I said. "You weren't even late."

"We were all out of milk," another said. "I couldn't have cereal."

"But you had something to eat, right?" I asked.

"Yeah, Pop Tarts. I love those!"

"Well, there you go.".

I followed this dialogue with my Friday the 13th "look for good luck" mandate. I have a theory that you find what you look for, a…

Playing the odds~

A woman's business-like voice on the answering machine said, "Good morning. This call is for Mrs. . . ., followed by a familiar pause while she struggled, and failed, to pronounce my name correctly.

It's much simpler to pronounce than to spell: Do let. Accent on the let.

Douillette. It looks awful with the French word "oui" in there with the two Ls and the two Ts. I make my fifth graders learn to spell it early in the year.

I tell them "oui" is the French word for yes, and I like to say "yes." I tell them I have three sets of twins in my name: Ls, Ts, and . . . can they find the other twins? (This is why I come home starved for adult conversation at the end of each day.)

"Mrs. Dow wah let ee. You have an appointment at the clinic tomorrow at eight," she said.

Eight! First of all, since when do I ever schedule anything that early? And second of all, now that the appointment draws nigh, I'm not so sure I will go through with it.

I ha…

Till death do us part~

My husband and I have different ways of recharging our batteries. I left him happily puttering in the yard, and traveled thirty miles south to the city of New Bedford. An old whaling city, much of its charm lies in its historic district with cobblestone streets and original brick buildings.

This weekend the city was hosting "Summerfest"-- an annual Arts and Folk music festival.

I wandered in and out of the vendor tents, skipping the clothing and jewelry, focusing on art and photography, ignoring the carved wood displays altogether. I talked myself out of getting a bonsai tree at all three of the bonsai tree vendors. Although, I'd love one, I always talk myself out of a tiny tree. Some day I won't. I flipped through self-published books, not looking directly at the authors grouped under the awnings, although I could feel their hopeful eyes on me.

I took pictures of buildings, flowers, and cobblestone streets, and a picture of a building bearing the name of a friend. Mos…

Out of the forest~

Read this first: GPS unplugged~


The rest of the story . . .

I'm bad, but not bad enough that I didn't see something wildly inappropriate about the route GPS sent me on yesterday.

Bruce called the Garmin GPS help line this morning.

There was no plot against me fomented by artificial intelligence gone amuck, a possibility I'd entertained as I zigzagged around roads that went nowhere; no reality show with a helicopter hovering above, filming how long the black Toyota truck would go in circles before the driver pulled off the road and cried.

Apparently there is a preference setting in the GPS that was set to "avoid highways and avoid U-turns." Well, duh! I was trying to go 60 miles with a GPS that was determined to keep me off highways. No wonder.

To my credit I'd rebelled at one point and got on Rt. 95. I called the GPS some bad names, and yanked its dendrites from the cigarette lighter, because she insisted on instructing me to get off at each exit.

You should hea…

GPS unplugged~

I had a little argument today. With my GPS. I was headed to visit my son in a city 60 miles north, an hour and fifteen minutes away. It took me longer than this.

I listened to my GPS. The GPS, a gift from my husband, is insurance that I'll arrive where I'm trying to go. Before the GPS, I arrived late, after trial and error, use of reverse gear, U-turns, and some swearing. And phone calls.

Driving, for me, is like playing a game of chess where only a few spaces at a time are revealed. Apparently I'm one of those people with poor ability to form a "mental map."

Call it what you will-- a weakness, a problem, a disability-- coupled with the fact that I confuse left and right, it makes for a round-about trip.

But the GPS has been great. Until today. There is something extremely stubborn about artificial intelligence. And to be fair, I can be stubborn too. We didn't see eye to eye.

In retrospect, I realize it was trying to take me by the most direct route as the crow…

Consent of the governed~

It's 9:30 p.m. Independence Day, and I sit home in a comfy chair with a glass of Merlot, instead of on a blanket at the field where fireworks will blast off momentarily. Cool rainy weather slid in toward evening replacing the sun, and changing our plans as well.
I'm watching a documentary on the Military channel, something my husband had on. It's about the Revolutionary War.

"I wonder if we would have been Loyalists," I said to my husband.

I can't imagine that I would have been, but this is now. Who knows what I would have thought in 1775?

Maybe I would never have stepped foot in the New World to begin with, choosing to stay home when friends and family sailed for a new life. I might have thought terrible things about the rebels in America, the ungrateful wretches. How could they turn on the country that gave them so much?

"No." Bruce says, certain as always. We would never have been Loyalists.

But he couldn't explain his certainty. "I just do…

A cliche day~

Julia Cameron says in her book "The Artist's Way" that writers should get out once a week for a couple of hours, and do something just for themselves. Whatever it is they like best, from wandering through a museum to hiking a trail, just do it-- alone.

I read "The Artist's Way" only recently, but I've been treating myself to these outings for a long time. Time spent by myself rejuvenates my soul.

Today, a day so clear and cool that it felt more like May than early July, I biked to the next town to a conservation area I'd seen. The clouds were so beautiful they held my gaze more than the roadway.

All the while, I wrote in my head-- something I've done most of my life. I describe what I see as if I'm reading it in a book. But I couldn't for the life of me think of anything other than clich├ęs to describe the magnificent cumulus clouds.

They were cotton candy, foamy billows on a blue sea, marshmallow fluff, frosting, whipped cream, mering…