Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day, 2011

Monday morning, I put on my patriotic earrings which were purchased in Washington, DC ages ago when we took our family on the East Coast trip around the 4th of July.  We watched the fireworks from the Mall,  with the Washington Monument there like a stem to the spiky chrysanthemem-like lights bursting into glory over our heads.  A couple of the kids squabbled over the umbrella in the light drizzle.  One child made eyeglasses out of the glow-in-the-dark necklaces we'd purchased. The ride home to our hotel took us hours because the Metro was jam-packed with people.  It's a great memory.

We walked about half-a-mile to our main boulevard, and waved our flags and cheered on West Coast Rolling Thunder.

We'd invited our friend Rob to join us this year.

Then I came home and put up our Red, White and Blue Quilt in the hallway.  Read more about that *here*.

Existential Question of Writing

I wrote in one of my last posts about feeling out of sync with my own era.  I also think it was in response that I had to turn in a short story to my newly formed writing group last night and I had nothing new.  I have written only short, blog posts for several years now, avoiding the heavy work of long-form fiction writing.  I do think about, and often revise several times, what I write on blog posts, so the craft of writing still peeks its head up when I'm composing the short form.

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend, who is about my age and stage with children launched and grandchildren woven through our lives, and mentioned my angst about all this to her.  I wondered if I was up to the writing, the work, if at my age I had the energy. Her (brilliant) insight was that when we were young mothers and surrounded by work and laundry and fixing meals and cleaning up and activities we would look far into our future and say that when all the children left, we would do_________ and then we would fill in that blank with whatever we--at that point in our younger lives--imagined that we would want to do.  She observed that now that we have finally arrived at that fill-in-the-blank spot, all is changed.  What our 35-year-old self thought is not what our 55-plus self sees as a possibility.

It's a bit disconcerting, all of this shifting around.

In some cases, the shift happens because of forces outside our lives: the recession and business failures, health problems, the dynamics of our extended family.  Some interior forces might be a different way of looking at things, a banking of that proverbial fire in the belly, an altered moral viewpoint.  Whatever the situation that brought us to this point, those dreams we once had--that may have gotten us through that crunch--are seemingly ephemeral and must be redrawn, reimagined.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Out of My Time

Sometimes I feel like I'm always out of my own time.

When I was raising children, I tucked into home and domesticity and chore charts and making a good loaf of bread right about the time all the women my age were going back for advanced degrees, getting big fancy jobs and denigrating those women who stayed at home.  Yes, people like me.

I spent a lot of years making all my children's clothes, sewing for friends and this post from a blogger, writing about her children's flannel nightgowns, triggered lots of sewing memories for me.  I've cooked (and have lots of recipes to show for it), cleaned, sewn, quilted and now that there is a veritable explosion of blogs posting about these things, I'm sort of out of steam, out of energy, and yes, out of sync.  So many bloggers and "sewists" (that's the new term and it still sounds strange to me) are creating and posting all those things I know how to do--and DID--while I'm grading papers and doing lesson plans at my definitely un-fancy job at the local community college. 

On a somewhat related note, I've been thinking a lot about how thin I've spread myself in my creative world.  There's even a book about people like me--who like to do lots of things all at once.  I think it can best be summed up in this quote I have stuck on my cabinet near the computer:

Much of what I read in the blogosphere reminds me of all I used to accomplish in my sewing/creative life, and all that I cannot now do.  Whether I like it or not, those doors are closed to me now.  I won't be stitching up batches of nightgowns, or sewing this or that.  I just don't have the time/energy/vision/youth that is required for all of that.  I have to choose, now, and that is something new (and I have to say) rather unwelcome to me.  I'd rather have all that hope and promise of my thirties--when the world was all new, untested, ready for me to try and do anything--like all these young women bloggers with their blogs.

I suppose I need to tap into the blogs of the fifty-somethings rather than the thirty-somethings, and see if they have something interesting to say.  And while I just don't want to hang out with Premature Door-Closers (or become one myself), there is an elegance to streamlining a life, of bubbling it down to its core--and its creative--essentials.  Of figuring out what I want to be as I grow up.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monday, May 09, 2011

Strawberries & Etcetera

The strawberries this year are amazing.  Dave and I drove down to see Chad on his birthday (he looked terrific!) and on the way out, drove past Manassero Farms.  The fragrance from the berries just picked that morning was divine.  Before we ate them all up, they posed for me.

Here's another interesting photo, taken in our local Costco on Cinco de Mayo (May 5th). It says 100% Agave.  I assume that's Tequila, put into bottles that resemble shot guns.  Yes, yes.  We are so highbrow here.

On the day of the Royal Wedding, I got up early and watched it, which you already know.  But what you don't know about is how my friend Judy invited me over to watch the recaps (okay, I begged, because she has a TiVo and I do not.  Long Story.). To further entice me she mentioned that she might have scones.  I jumped, and this is the lovely breakfast of fruit with a yogurt/honey sauce and those delectable White Chocolate-Orange Scones (recipe found over on Elizabeth Cooks). It was an enjoyable morning, getting each other's take on the (silly) hats, then topped off by the brilliance of the ceremony and that Royal Kiss.  It gave me that needed motivation to go back home and grade papers.

Last night Carrie from Iowa arrived, with her friend Gina (on the left); they've know each other for years.  This is a cool thing, because I met Carrie when participating in a online writing blitz three years ago, and we've become friends because we both like to write and we are both adjunct teachers of English.  It's fun to finally meet a pen pal.  Gina is a professor of art education, and is immersed in studying the art produced by those students in the Japanese Internment camps, so she is touring around the Western United States visiting the Internment Camps (next up, Manzanar).  Our breakfast table conversation was fascinating, as she talked about these things.

And the last photo is a mundane location (our local shopping center) but is representative of the lovely (cool) weather we've been having around here.  It's a nice breather before the summer's furnace arrives.  Now you know I've really lost it if I'm providing weather reports.  No, it's just that I'm coming down to the end of the semester (3 more teaching days) and my brain is similarly throttling down, unable to handle complex tasks or erudite ideas.  Given that, the weather is an appropriate subject.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers out there!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Big Smiles

That little 50-cent pin in the corner of this completely unexpected certificate brought a million-dollar smile to my face yesterday morning. I had no idea what it was shen I pulled it out of my school mailbox, but immediately put the pin on my sweater and wore it proudly all day.  My mother says it's a nice reward for not "putting my head down on the desk and crying" after seeing the last post about some of my students' papers.
Wow.  So unexpected.  So lovely.  I think I'll make it to the end of the semester now!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Grading Research Papers

The Stair Method of Grading Papers--the step they land on when thrown determines the grade.
Some of the best lines from my recent batch of papers:
• "[Teachers] are a part of the process in helping people find and obtain a complacent [sic] career.

• "Today's students are entirely different bread [sic] than those of previous years."

• "It is hard to say exactly what would combat students in these shoes."

•"By only sticking to those they know and share the same view points [sic] with they never get to expand and understand others and as such never even get to start the bond with the college as a whole.  This may seem somewhat irreverent [sic] in the big picture, but it has an invisible hand in things."
(A contender in the Sell Me A Comma as well as A Vague Pronoun award.)

• "Many teachers in the teaching district are now adjuncts and although these teachers are trying the skimpily [sic] don't have the necessary skill that full time [sic] teachers have."

Note:  When Dave and I were in Shanghai, we would go to the hotel manager with a question.  He would answer in English.  But we couldn't understand what he said, even though we recognized he was speaking the same language as we were.  I have a little of the same problem going on with this student.

How a teacher feels when correcting the same error a billion times--one that we went over and over and over in class.

• "Another example of a graffiti artist is Keith Haring, a social activist who in the 1980s created street art using bold lines and vivid color, and social issues."

• "Plenty more citizens that are currently unemployed and struggling can now get a good holding to make some money."

•" If the ordinary consumer did not have to pay more on gas they can use the money in other industries, stirring the economy more."

• "After almost being caught red-handed, Banksy told himself he had to either cut the time it took him to bomb him [sic] art or quick [sic] the whole street scene altogether.

•"Couples that have fertility problems turn to first, if they can afford the price tag."

Happy Grading!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bin Laden Gone

I'm glued to the news reports today as it is almost too much to take in.  
This man has defined our country's news for the better part of a decade.  
Wonder what will happen now.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Royal Wedding, Reflections

We were all waiting for this, weren't we?  The lovely Catherine Elizabeth kissing her groom. 

I believe we were all this lovely on our wedding days, our groom just as besotted with us, the sun just as bright, the dress perfectly fit and styled for us.  All elements combined to make the magic for our own memories just as rich and as real as that which we saw in London on Friday.

I remember stepping out from my newly said vows to a shower of shredded ficus leaves from the plant nearest the door, the torn bits tossed by my children, waiting for their mother to finally finish marrying her beau.  Surprised, but happy, I felt every inch a woman who had met her Prince Charming and had snagged him.  We went out to pictures and a wedding luncheon hosted by my parents, where perfectly lovely things were said and perfectly lovely memories were made. 

All weddings are completely different.  Yet all weddings are the same and involve a happy couple, shining in the realization that they are the luckiest people on the whole planet.  

P.S.  I loved this spoof!