Sunday, March 30, 2014


to winter's last gasp. Friday was nice enough to go outside for recess and enjoy the warmth of the spring air. Today, we awoke to 5 or 6 inches of new, wet, heavy snow. The forecast for Tuesday this week is a high in the 60's. Mother Nature certainly is a fickle bitch.

I love winter. For the first few months. And in Alaska, especially. Here? In New York? When it is a day away from April? Yeah, I'm over it.

Friday, March 28, 2014


for weather warm enough to FINALLY go outdoors for recess. These kids need to get outside almost as much as I need them to get outside!  It was about 57 degrees today, after a M, T, W, Th this week  STILL in the 20's.  It has been a long, very, very, very cold winter, and today, it finally broke. We are due for snow again Saturday night. Of course. But at least today, we spent 25 minutes outside instead of cooped up in the gym like we've been since, oh, about October. Maybe November. Grey skies, but warmer air. I'll take it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Looking for Cardinals

     On the way to "the big city" where I go a few times a year for real shopping, or to one of the bigger towns in between here and there, where I occasionally go for groceries or to meet my sister halfway, there is  a choice of roads to take. Most people I know take the main, well-paved highway. I seldom choose that. I almost always choose the back road, the "cardinal road."  It's a "paved" road most of the way, if you don't count the potholes big enough to lose your entire truck in this time of year, and a few stretches where either it isn't paved for some unknown reason, or the paving has worn away to dirt. But it's a road that has a lot of scrubby brush and taller bushes along the way, on both sides of the road. It's a perfect haven for cardinals, and so many times I've seen them dipping and bobbing across the road, as they do, from one pile of brush to another.  I don't always see them, but have often enough in the past that I now always take that road when I'm by myself to look for them.  I met my sister for dinner last night, and took the road both going there and coming home, looking for cardinals.
     I didn't see any, but I wasn't disappointed. I got a good look at  a huge turkey vulture feasting unabashedly on a deer carcass on the side of the road. On my way past him, he flew up and off a little ways. On my way home, he never moved, and just gave me the stink eye as I passed by. I got a good look at him. A beautifully ugly creature.
       I also lost count of the number of young deer that leapfrogged each other across the road in the waning light of day. Skittish beauties, all of them. The fields are brown, and silent, still with patches of snow here and there that will be gone by the end of this week. The sunset was truly a wonder, pale pink at first under the edge of leftover white puffed up clouds, then a riot of oranges and deep pinks, finally red and fiery, it sank, and left the sky watercolored and soft. It looked more like a summer sunset than a spring one, and belied the cold that the air still holds.
     I think looking for cardinals is a worthwhile pursuit, even when you don't see any. Going that road doesn't really take any longer than going the main road, but it is a conscious choice I had to make at that junction, to turn left and brave the potholes and perhaps see a bright flash of red, or to just continue on the paved road through towns, past houses aplenty, without much hope of seeing anything out of the ordinary. My frequent choice to pursue the cardinals makes me realize that it is similar to the way I've tried to live my life the past year or two - a metaphor in the making. 
     I try to find the good in every day, even when it most seems like it is not there. Work is overwhelmingly frustrating much of the time, there are always family issues of one sort or another, it seems, and there is never enough money or time to do what needs to be done. If it isn't one thing, it is ALWAYS another. But... that is where LOOKING for the good, searching for those "cardinals," has made the most difference in my life. I have found that so much of the time, for me, it is about attitude, and perspective and choosing to count my blessings, like that of seeing a brilliant flash of red streak across the road in front of me, instead of dwelling on the negative, or, even just "taking the main road" without thought. Live with intention? Seek out the bits of flash in your day, or your life. Who knows. Maybe all you'll see is a really ugly Turkey Vulture, feasting on a dead deer. Or maybe, you'll get lucky, and see a cardinal or two, or five or six, in a scarlet flash across the road. Seeing a cardinal, on an otherwise ordinary day, always makes the day become extraordinary, I think.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Chickens in the Dining Room

Doesn't everyone bring chickens up from the basement and let them hang out on their dining room table on a Sunday afternoon, just for amusement purposes? Really? They don't? Well, they should. Chickens are fun. And funny.
When most people say they have chicken in their lunch pails,
this is probably NOT what they mean?

Laurel and Hardy? Actually, Thelma and Louise, since they both better be females!

This one was SO mouthy. Holy cow, if there is any such thing as a
screaming chicken, this girl is it.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

     Yesterday morning, Saturday, instead of sleeping in, waking with the sun, taking my quiet time with coffee like I like to do on a weekend, I got up to the alarm and rushed around like I do on a weekday morning, and left the house earlier than I have to for work. I was feeling very out of sorts, to not be able to follow my normal, desired, slower, weekend rhythms.  Out of sorts is actually kind of an understatement. I was really grumpy to have to give up an entire day of my down time to go sit at an Emergency Medical Services conference all day long. I had already spent my Friday night there, and now, another whole day, a Saturday. I need the continuing medical education hours in order to keep my EMT certification, so I really had no choice. Not this weekend. Not unless I decide to give up being an EMT altogether.
     That thought has crossed my mind a lot of times, for many different reasons. Monday night at dinner a friend of ours, who is retired, mentioned how busy we are all the time. It seemed like a sort of revelation. I don't know why. I guess because we just live our daily lives without a lot of time for sitting around thinking about living; we all just follow our normal routines, busy or not, without much thought. So I started wondering this week about the things I do that might  make me seem busier that some people, wondering if there are things I do that I could drop so I wasn't so busy and stressed feeling as often as I am.
      Being an EMT is one of those things. It doesn't require HUGE amounts of times, and I can sometimes pick and choose when to respond and when not to. But then, there are other times when it does take up large amounts of time, and requires me to do stupid things I'd really rather not have to do at all, like instead of filling out paperwork on ambulance calls, we are going to have to learn to do it all on computers. My brain rebels against that: "No, I don't WANT to learn how to do that. It will take too much time and effort. No, no, no."  And then there's the amount of time we spend responding to stupid calls for a toothache, a bumped shin, a twinge of back pain. Don't get me wrong. There are many completely legitimate calls you don't mind making. But there is a mentality that is all too prevalent that took me by surprise after becoming an EMT,  that the ambulance is simply a transport service for people who don't really need emergency services, but call anyway. It was very... enlightening. And discouraging. There are way too many of those calls. Those ARE a complete waste of time. And then, there are these conferences that I have to sit at a few weekends a year. I felt frustrated yesterday morning, thinking about this use of my time, wondering if the "waste" of a Saturday was really worth it in the overall scheme of my apparently too- busy life.
     Last night, after returning home, I was getting ready to call it a day and head up to bed. Let the dogs out, took my medicine, fed and watered the baby chickens in my basement. I had started turning out the lights when our ambulance tones went off:  Incoming 72 year old patient to our fire hall, cardiac arrest.  With no thought to the time of night, the hours the call would take, or what else might have needed doing, or the sleep that would be lost, I flew out the door and down the street to the fire hall. From first call to my response was probably two minutes. My 21 year old son, who is also an EMT, was already there, doing CPR, and continued CPR all the way to the hospital, a 30 minute trip. The other responders, far more experienced and knowledgeable than I, worked together like an orchestrated team. It was a tough call for me, multiple and unimportant reasons, but one which reminded me that my day at the conference had not been wasted at all,  and that, no matter how busy I am, I need to look for other things to let go of, not that. Apparently, becoming an EMT is more of a calling than I realized, or gave myself credit for while I was so busy grumbling over losing a Saturday.While I get thoroughly annoyed that a "difficulty breathing" call really means sometimes "I have a chest cold and should just go to a doctor, but I don't have a car and didn't bother to make a doctor visit during business hours and don't want to give up my two-pack a day habit so I will drag three of you out of bed at 2 am to take me to the hospital where they can administer an inhaler that I could have used at home," SOMETIMES a call like last night's is a wake up call to me that I really DO have a purpose at times and can be of some good to others. That's important to me. And it would be silly to let go of something that's important to me so that I can say I am "less busy."  I would like to have more time, be less busy, but maybe having a very full life and being "too busy" right now, at my age, is not necessarily a bad thing.
(And, I did learn how to give mouth-to-snout rescue breathing to a dog yesterday. 2 breaths per 30 compressions, 1/3 to 1/2 inch deep, under it's left front leg while laying on its side, unless it is a boxer or bulldog type of dog with a massive chest, in which case you can turn the dog over on its back... but don't forget to open its mouth and pull its tongue out first. Who says the day was wasted?!  Not I!)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Think I'm Growing Flowers...

"How do you experience creative flow (or not?) (work-in-progress)" -Lisa Sonora Beam  

"For me, creative flow feels more like a riptide than a gently flowing stream. Sudden, urgent. All might look calm on the surface, but the current is strong.
The last few weeks have been marked by an inward pull toward deep exploration. 
It looks like a lot of quiet, a hush, time alone. It looks like I'm doing nothing, really, as I share in these posts.
What I've learned to trust in are signs - an incubation of new work.  
Usually I begin by fighting against the current - it feels difficult to retreat inward sometimes. I already spend far too much time alone, especially in Mexico.
It's hard for me to feel very much like socializing or being very visible in the world when tilling the creative compost.
I'm curious how you experience creative flow - does it pull you inward in the same way?"

These words were at the beginning of a journal prompt last night that I occasionally get in my email. They resonate loudly within, because this is so similar to how I feel right now.  You can change the "place" from Mexico to Alaska - I just spent most of a week alone in Alaska again in February, happily feeding and caring for Kristin's dogs, and trying to do some writing (trying, wanting to, not accomplishing - there were DOGS, MANY dogs, there to play with ((28 I think this time))- who can write when there are so many dogs to feed and love?
But, creative 'need' in me screams, it doesn't whisper. "The current is strong." I can always tell when I have been uncreative too long - I start longing to look at colors and patterns and ideas. Once I start looking, I feel the need to create something. Sometimes I sew, sometimes I crochet or craft, sometimes I bake, sometimes I simply color inside lines - and often, I write, or try to. There are a lot of outlets for my creative currents, but finding the time, making the time, in a world where there are so many other UNcreative demands on my time, daily, - work, meals, laundry, dog and chicken care, sleep, husband, children, etc. etc. "it feels difficult to retreat inward."  Being a writer, wanting to be a writer, takes so much alone time, so much quiet, that some days it seems nearly impossible. I find myself thinking, "When I retire, I will..." what? Have more time? Write more often?  I can't fall into that trap. I will never "have more time" because who knows how much time ANY of us have? And, I like to be busy, so just retiring from teaching is not going to mean I have more time. I will fill it - with another job that hopefully requires nothing of me at home once each day is done, with volunteering, with travel, with all KINDS of things I look forward to doing in addition to writing. 
 I need to use the "now" and just MAKE the time.  Truth be told, I'm never very social or "visible in the world," outside of going to work, anyway. So, currently, I'm "tilling the creative compost." I'm most definitely "incubating" work.  I can't say when, or where, it will sprout, but stuff is germinating well. I have an idea of where I'm going, but can't see the whole map yet, only parts of it. It just feels good to HAVE a map, even if it is only one I have drawn for myself. I sometimes get frustrated that I FEEL creative, like a creative person, but yet I don't have much tangible work to show for that. But, it's ok. I like that I am, or feel, at least, creative. It makes me happy. I'm certainly never bored. I only have to look inward to see what's growing.  Happy Spring, as of the calendar, if not the outdoors, today, as well. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Welcome Home, Me


     Well, clearly the best laid plans of mice and men... and me.....
     I had hoped, back on the first of the year, that I might start blogging again, since I have missed the writing and the contacts with the blogging world, my virtual friends. But, I guess it's taken me this long to realize that blogging really is the best format choice for me. Since January, this year, I have been writing, but I went back to trying to use a journal, several journals, and have been writing, or trying to, to prompts, which I do love, but have not had much success. I guess I find I do best when I'm just documenting my life, for no other real purpose than the love of words, and to leave a record of my days. For what real purpose, I don't know. Maybe for my kids, or grand-kids? Maybe for no one. But the ease of a computer keyboard, over the slowness of pen to paper, no matter how much I love my journals and my pens (I have a minor pen "thievery" issue - if a grocery store or doctor's office has a beautifully smooth writing pen, especially with a fine tip, I tend to "acquire" that pen. Somehow, I just seem to forget to lay it back down after writing my check, or my next appointment date...I also have a SUPER thing for journals; I adore a new notebook!!!) is just going to generate more consistent writing, and more writing, quantity-wise, I guess.  So, here I am. Hello, me.
     While last year's goal was to take better care of me, physically, and I can successfully say I did that, and continue to do that, this year's goal was/is writing. Write, write, and write some more. And do something with it. To what end, I'm not sure, but I have applied, and am still waiting (more and more anxiously with every day that passes) to hear from UAA about their MFA in Creative Writing. I applied for their low residency program in literary nonfiction, but have not heard yet. It's frustrating, because if that isn't going to happen, then I need to find a new goal for myself to get me writing, to SOME end, whatever it might end up being. I'm not worried - just focused.
     So, with the realization that this is the best location for me to tumble out the day's thoughts, or worries, or joys, even though it was a year between visits from Jan to Jan, and now nearly 3 months between the last I wrote and this, I know it's ok. I'm back. This is my home, of sorts, for many of my words, and home is not just a place to visit, it's a place to return to. I've been away for a year and a few months, but I'm home again, and, I think I'll stay for awhile. In fact, I think I might even go make a cup of tea, and come back again all in the same day. I've missed you, pages, and I'm GLAD to be home. Robert Frost said, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."  Well, my lovely little page in bloggerworld, you are my home to my thoughts and words and heart, so you must take me back!  Thank goodness. There's no place like home. <3 br="">