Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year, A Day Late.

I miss writing.  I've taken a long break- a *really* long break- from blogging- last year was an all time low of posts.  I make no excuses, truth is it became more of a chore than a pleasure, and it felt like everyday all I did was talk about my brain and how thinking/communicating made me feel like a duct-taped blind rat trying to find a way out of a paper bag.  (Answer?  Chew yourself out of the bag.  I'm out of the bag, working on the duct tape now....)

Anyhoo, thanks to modern mediwisdom I am now thinking more-or-less ok again, not sleeping as much (down to 10 hours!) and have a majorly improved mood.  I still get stuck and scrambled, but not as often- and the constant-coldness has been replaced with the menopausal volcano of always being hot.  (TMI but I suddenly *hate* to wear clothes.  I do when I'm awake, but have rediscovered the pleasures of cold sheets on bare skin.  After a summer of multiple quilts, frosting, electric blanket on high and socks, here in winter it's down to nothing at all..... Mr. Owens needs his own room, he keeps being evicted to the couch.)

So. New Years.  Thank-God.  2013 was *not* my favorite year, but we made it- and I took a day off- New Years Day- before beginning to think about 2014 and what I want to do, resolutions I want to make, goals I want to set.  And this is extra important because I am now 50- milestone that is unbelievable- and need to be ready for the next half-century of adventure.

Beginning with truths, for the fundamental of thinking about change is beginning with truth.

1. Truth: Money buys happiness.  Everyone says it doesn't, but they are- for the most part- lying.  I am awful at money.  I work and am thrifty, live modestly, but it continues to vanish and we are struggling. We both work- but the issue is just there is no way to get ahead and an emergency wipes us out.  2013 was the year of constant emergencies- everything from car-disasters, hospital trips, tumble-down-house to relatively simple things like dead coffee makers.  You know, money wise- when it comes to happiness it is not that surplus money literally *buys* happiness (as in material goods, though a new pair of shoes would be nice) but having enough to cover the bills without fear of lack of gas to get to work- that buys safety.  And less stress, anger, fear.  All of that equates happiness.
Resolution:  Communication- pay the bills on time as best we can (we usually manage this), communicate when I cannot.  Tighten small expenses by eliminating as much as possible in order to plan/save for large ones.  Keep working hard, without discouragement, and focus on leveraging our existing talents/ jobs for maximum benefit.
Action: Budget plan and document management.  Sequestered savings. Targeted spending- ie: 25 $4.00 trips to McDonalds (usual amount for one- drink, fries, sandwich) equals my long-desired much-needed boots.
Goal: Make it through the month without struggling, pay off some of the lower depts, save 1,000 by next C'mas, and get a new pair of boots.  (Can you tell I really, really, really need boots?)

2. Truth: Work Makes Fun Funner. So far I am having an awesome year at school- yes, there are stress spots and low spots, but it is going much better than the past few years.  In part because I am doing less (no more graduate school or mass leadership), but also because I am finally learning a simple truth- work  first, *then* fun is less stressful.  You see, I get lazy- I work at relaxing, want to read/ paint/ write/ binge-watch tv- but if I am doing this and work is to be done, a vicious cycle is generated.  I get stuck in 'relaxing' while still stressing about 'all I need to do'- which is actually easily accomplished if I just do it first.  If I delay it, everything builds in my mind into mountainous proportions and I get all weird.  At this age, I know how and when I work the most effectively, write the best, organize the best etc. and when I need to 'shut off' for the day.
Resolution: Work first, play later- and moderation in both.  If I am in the mood- the groove- to work and keep working, do so- but that doesn't mean that *everyday* I have to work *all day*.  It is ok to do a bit then move on- even though I am  wise enough to realize how incredibly difficult for me that can be.
Action: Stick to my schedule, regardless.  I am at my best when I wake up early (4am) and start working- the early morning is when I write the best, think the clearest, can do math without stressing and have creative ideas.  During the day- from about 10am on- is better for physical things- cleaning, painting, teaching.  Afternoons find me shorter on energy, patience and focus- I can work through out the day but no major decisions please.  After 4 I'm done.  No decisions, math or complex problems- this is the time for silence, reading, drawing, watching tv, resting.   Decisions are best between 10am and 12 pm- in the early morning I tend to be a bit manic and think I can do everything- while I can solve problems creatively then I also tend to get committed to projects that I don't want to head up or work on. Remember that.
Work first, then school, then rest.  Everyday.  Weekends- same- but replace the school part with at-home part.  When I am excited/ motivated to do something, over ride everything else and do it- that is ok.
Goal: work smarter, not harder. Be aware of time/ motivation/ energy and 'drive my own car'.

3. Truth: I am an introvert by nature.  I love my husband, best friend, son, family, students- but I also need a right good dose of alone-time.  I have a hard time communicating, paying attention (really listening), doing social events in person, making small talk.  I hate talking on the phone- and don't, with the exception being calls to Mother and check-ins with the manz.  I like one-on-one time better than group time- take me on an adventure just me-and-you, and we will have a ball.  The more people in the mix, the quieter I get- not because I don't like them, but because I want to: fit in, make everyone happy, can't understand what they are saying, hate being rude, get distracted (or- bored).....  I'm really good at written communication, or group presentation/facilitation (listen to me!) but - Whoa- do I lack social skills.  I am content to listen though- and am comfortable in that role if you just let me listen and draw without feeling weird.  I do get people overload and like to be by myself- I have no fear of traveling by myself, doing things alone, having solitary adventures- I would rather go somewhere by myself than with someone who is not a willing companion- it's ok.
Resolution: Balance between companionship and solitude- be honest.  I need time alone.  I need alone time with my husband, my best friend, my son.  I need to remember that it is important to be 'in-person' with my family- but I am also honest enough to say 'no thank-you' to work related social activities, parties, mixers etc.
Action: Time for others, time for self.  Make quiet time during the day every day at work- I am bombarded by the needs/demands/emotional roller coaster of others- and I need to remember to Shut The Door and have a time out occasionally. Make/ plan protected time for being with Melissa, Grendel, Charles- and remember to communicate with others regularly.
Goal: Balance.  Daily: a time-out during day at work, a time-out when I get home.  Weekly: call Mother, write others.  Quarterly: Melissa-time. We recharge off each other- and need- however brief- visits to refresh our spirits.

4. Truth: I suck at keeping promises. I have good intentions and a willing spirit- I tend (especially in the early morning) to think I can do anything, have time to do everything, can move mountains.  Then reality sets in- the energy and good intentions flop to obligations and procrastination- which forges the chains of depression when I have to force myself to complete things that I committed to in a blur of enthusiasm or politeness.  (I say yes to quite allot that I shouldn't because I am to polite to say no.  Instead, I sometimes do not follow through with things I say yes to, leaving me in awkward and less-polite situations.)  These promises range from the important- (yes, I will work on that committee, yes I will rewrite that curriculum, yes I will visit, yes I will make/fix/organize this project) to the mundane (yes I will do the dishes, yes I will call the doctor) to the personal (yes I will diet, yes I will exercise, yes I will be better....)  This makes me crazier than all of the above, because it usually feeds into the above.  I promise money I don't have, to do work I don't want to, to attend events that I cannot.  I promise myself to change myself, to reward myself with needed/ desired objects (the boots), and then become discouraged, frustrated, depressed when I do not meet the goals- and deprive myself of the 'reward', even if I really need it.  Likewise, unfilled commitments lead to stress, bottled anger and most of all- guilt.  Guilt is a nasty beast to feed- but sometimes I keep feeding it instead of just saying "No", "I withdraw" or sucking it up and doing what I promised.
Resolution:  Tell the truth.  If you don't want to do something, say so.  I am getting better at this.  If you want to do something, say so and do it right off- the more you delay the less likely it is to get done.  Be clear about what you *want* to do, *have* to do, or just feel obligated to do because you have always done it.  WAIT before committing- No promises in the morning.  No, no, no.
Action: What you promise you must pursue. (From the Frog King).  If I am committed to it right now, finish it.  Otherwise, say NO.  Simple as that.
Resolution:  No promises to do things/projects, no undertaking extra responsibilities without just reward, take a year to step back.  I have begun this- and have discovered that I am ok with not being 'top dog'.  (Thing is, I am not a good 'pack member' either- I want to still be acknowledged as special).  I am going to work at being a Ronin.

Ok. That covers it- money, work, relationships, sense of self.  Things I can work with, work on, written down and established.  Wish me well, and we shall see what this year brings~

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On Teaching- a repost of a facebook rant by me.

Teaching- I've avoid posting, but now it's my turn-

Teaching. I'm a little over half-way to retirement. Once I decided on this career, I invested in it- time, money, passion to be the best I could be. I got my boards, then renewed them. I got my master's degree, and am almost finished with another. I hoped to one day get a doctorate- not to leave the classroom, but to *stay* in the classroom, doing what I could with the weight of the title to make things better. In the meantime, I worked hard. Laughed, loved my kids, fussed at my kids, cried over them. Buried a few. Watched others grow into incredible, magical adults. I made art, learned things, taught things. Bought, begged and scrounged for supplies. Stayed countless hours after school for gate duty, tutoring, productions and just plain 'school stuff'. Worried and worked all summer to reinvent the wheel- updating lessons, management, technology to try to keep pace. Yes, I get very tired, very frustrated. Sometimes I lose my temper. But overall, I love what I do. I love teaching, and my story is a common one. Many teachers put in the same time, effort and passion as I do.

Our state (NC) has chosen to make changes regarding tenure, pay, degree value and other conditions. This makes me sad, angry and scared for my future. While I did not go into teaching for the money, the profession did provide me with the stability, security and flexibility to raise a child as a single mother. I have always worked two jobs, and know how to live on small means. Now, that security is threatened- and I am left with:

1. Ambition- a partial degree and aspirations, but no time, support or incentive other than intrinsic to complete them.

2. Sallie Mae at my door. Education is *expensive*- my education was priceless, but paybacks are due and I have to find a way. This is a constant worry.

3. Fidelity. I *love* my schools (Trask and NCVPS). I'm old fashioned in that I stick with something to the bitter end- but financially I would do well to change states, change jobs. I don't want to- but tell that to Sallie Mae. Also- quite frankly- I'm settled. I could uproot my life, but I'd rather not.

4. Future Shock. How are we going to recruit and retain quality teachers in our schools? How can we ethically encourage students to enter the field of education? Why would our Universities and Colleges continue on offering graduate levels in education if our state teachers cannot afford it and cannot profit by it? The huge impact of this decision echos from early childhood throughout University-

5. What have I done wrong? I understand and support performance reviews- they are critical to maintaining excellence and self-awareness. I understand (boy, do I ever) the need for budgeting. I believe that we can work on finding/creating other ways to modify the budget. I might be taking this personally- as in the 'what have I done wrong'- but it is personal. This decision feels like a punishment, and I'm not sure for what.

6. Attitude. Again, I love my job, my kids- but I get tired. I don't want a parade, and I don't expect to be a millionaire, or a thousandaire- but I also did not expect to still be at the base level of needs at my age. To have to worry about making enough to cover shelter, food, necessities, medical (don't get me started on that!). To have no- zero- zip- zilch- savings. No material recognition (as in money- not as in a pretty pretty paper award) for hard work well done. Don't get me wrong- there is emotional/ intellectual satisfaction in doing a good job and seeing the kids shine- but frankly, that does not put ramen in the bowl.

7. Hope. Hope that things will change, or that I will find enough mojo to change myself, reorder my life, try something new. Hope that all clouds pass, that together we can raise our voice and not only be heard but be *listened* to. Hope that this moment is the bottom of the barrel, and that we now begin the long climb up.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blackberry Summer, or a Lesson From Karma

Blackberries from the Yarden @ Tanglewood

June 25th already- summer is passing and I do my best to hold onto it.  It feels a bit out of order because after school we usually do Texas first, then the Highland Games, then home stuff.... but this year is different.  Mr. Owens has been booked fair solid for June (Hooray! Look for him on Homeland!), I was worn out at the end of school, and so we are at home now, then the Games, then Texas in mid-late July.  Going (hopefully) to NM first to see Sister Sue, then to Mothers- plans, plans.  

And we all know what happens to the best laid plans of mice and men.  Cats.  No seriously, every summer I start off (just like in January) full of 'to-do's' and 'resolutions', then I worry myself to bits when I am not getting them done.  I get in a weird freezy state of 'I have a bunch to do, but I want to relax so I'm not doing it' which ends up in to many naps, unproductive time and alteration between nibbling on lettuce and tearing up the ice cream.  Then- just when I'm feeling compliant with this mud, karma steps in and gives me a good shake, let's me know I'd better get on with it.

Which brings us to yesterday- Monday, I think it was.  Mr. Owens away on set for the day/night- big plans to 'do things' for me.  I first had a grandiose plan of surprising him by painting the bathroom... but then decided not to after doing some research and deciding that extremely high humidity was probably not the best time for a major painting expedition.  Then the new laptop came!  (Just a simple one, but good old Evie can't keep up with new technology anymore...) Yay!  Then I had plans of organizing files, getting a good start on next year, working on my current classes.... but first had to learn to negotiate Windows 8.... and the whole time it is raining.  Not just raining, but thunder/lightening/buckets of has been doing that for days but yesterday was intense.  Power went out so...naptime.  Which turned out to be a good thing.

When I woke up, power back on finally, I was lazy and indulgent- slumped on the couch, watched a movie, ate junk... had intermittent conversations with Mr. Owens between set breaks and weather killing our signal.  Finally gave up, said goodnight and headed off to bed....and Grendel called.  A going away party for a friend at Buffalo Wild Wings turned into chicken-in-the-throat.  They (Andrew and Caroline, great folks) got him to the hospital, waited for me to get there- and also stopped by to make sure Serene went out.  (Serene is the new dogg).  After the usual rotor routing, lecture etc, we headed home about 4.  I picked up Serene, bundled them both into the truck and came home.  What else to do?  Grendel is sleeping off the sedation on the couch, Serene has partied with Bear and Max- they are both worn out and sound asleep.  I am back up, intending to work, write, do things- while also keeping her in line (via waterbottle and 'No'), and watching the hoards of workers swarm over the pumping station across the street.  It shuts down everytime it rains hard, resulting in assorted red lights and alarms, nasty smells when they fix it and general chaos.  It's raining again now, and is supposed to continue all week.....

Anyway, karma.  Now I don't flatter myself enough to take all this personally, but I do consider this a wake-up call.  No wasting time worrying about wasting time- there is no profit in that. Find the grace in action, and do what you can to avoid the cosmic spray bottle.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Midsummer's Dreams

Midsummer brings dreams, even though by our calendar we count the solstice as 'first day of summer', it is the longest day- midpoint of the year.  Tomorrow.  First week into summer vacation and I have done the usual- cleaned, worked in the yarden, a wee bit of writing, lots of online work, smattering of art, devoured four books and am well into the fifth, have become suddenly obsessed with circuses and gourds- and tangled with the demons of time and sleep.  Time because I am aware and not aware at once- the days vanish quickly, though I do not usually know what day of the week it is, or the hour- I just turn around and the day is gone. Which creates a feeling of semipanic that I am either 'wasting' my summer - either by drifting along unaware, or by obsessing so about it passing that I do not enjoy it......or not getting things done.  I have a hard time anchoring in the moment- either it passes unnoticed or I worry about what is coming, what needs done.  Sleeping- I am much, much less stressed now, attitude improved tenfold, but the sleeping hasn't changed- more if anything. Ten hours a night- usually now from 8 to 6- plus at least one nap of an hour or so during the day.  Despite the new medicine (which does make me more 'awake' and productive during the day- clearer), despite cutting out sugar and bread and trying to get out and move around more.  Sleeping, full of strange midsummer's dreams.

I always dream, always remember them.  I know their symbols, pacing and meaning for the most part.  Strangely enough, my dreams have changed now- and the relaxation I feel during the day is twisted into strange anxieties in the dreams.  Nightly I have to take a test or turn in a paper that I haven't done- a fear of being not only unprepared but *unaware* that my performance is to be evaluated. Panic, stress.  At the same time, I dream of uncovering treasures- one of my positive signs that I am learning, that I am feeling ok.  I dream of the houses- the one on Luzerne Street Extension most frequently, sometimes Headacher or the Green House in Sugar Grove.  I am often dreaming of our little gray house by the sea, and either moving back there, or having to move out. Always fixing up, tearing down, parents away- soon to return- have to get things ready, cleaned up.  Or, in the case of the Grey house, in order for the landlord.  What does this mean?  A need to mentally 'get my house in order'?  Another version of the evaluation dream, but this with a chance to prepare?  I dream of dogs- our dogs from years past- slipping out of the house, and the worry trying to chase them down, bring them back to where they belong.  I dream of students of long ago, my first years teaching, students who are now adults.  They are adults in my dreams and I meet them with their families.  One student in particular I dream of with twins- she does not have twins in real life, only one son, but lately she appears with twins.  Always happy, always they are dressed for the spontaneous holidays of childhood, mischievous three-year-olds with glow sticks and light up shoes.

I dream of the 'old people'- Auntie Lou has been the star lately, which is odd.  Usually Granny Wrye stops by for visits, but right now it has been Auntie Lou and the hot summer dust of her parlor, listening to baseball on the radio.  Sounds of street traffic and the curious way that a house can be surrounded by noise but silent all the same.  I dream of my dad lots- and my mother- time travel dreams back to other times, places.  Again the houses.

Then- I also have these strange action-adventure dreams, which are rather fun in a stressful way.  One night it was about zombies- but not the typical zombie dream.  This time *some* of the zombies were good zombies- sentient- and I was working with others to save them (for some reason- not sure why?) from those who sported on shooting up zombies for fun.  The dream involved lots of running, hiding in barns, playing dead, gourds (yeah- I know) and dogs.  The dogs were the comic relief- our 'friends' except I remember clearly one of the good zombies explaining how hard it was to play dead when a dog was nibbling on your leg because that tickled.

And so it goes- sleeping into summer.  I am trying to go with the flow, and promise not to write so much about my dreams- like most dreams, they are interesting to the dreamer and boring/confusing to everyone else.  But the dreams of midsummer are magical, and sometimes revel things that need to be known.  Like the unexpected laughter of zombies.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Somethings are not meant to be.... or my big fat shopping adventure.

Skinny Jeans Suck.

So yesterday was 'spend-money-day'.  We started off with a set of badly needed new tires for the car- brand new tires- and that was the bulk of the money.  When Mr. Owens returned home, I set off to carry the monster off to get his car back from the mechanic, mail the go-around sketchbook, and do a few other errands.  I managed to get the clean art rags back to school, never did mail the book- the car was successfully repaired and driven off happily into the sunset.  I now had a free afternoon in the city- and Mr. Owens encouraging me to 'take some time for yourself- have girl fun', and off I went.  

My plans were basic- perhaps a new book at the bookstore.  A new belt for Mr. Owens, and a cd for Owl for Father's day.  Easy.  

World market was first- one of my all time favorite stores ever since Sister Sue took me to one in Texas.  Contented browsing, free tea, a really bright cool shopping bag with Mermaids on it...and a sale on shower curtains.  Now, I have always been a white-bathroom person for the most part.  I have painted the windows, and Grendel's bathroom had a boy-friendly bright fish shower curtain in the grey house, but basically white-is-right.  The bathroom at Tanglewood (which is the project-that-will-never-end) is mostly white-ish, different shades, which fit with the cottage look of it.  Clear glass bottles, a few paintings, Einstein.   When our last (white) shower curtain wore out, Mr. Owens bought a practical-sensible heavy clear curtain that has lots of reinforced pockets for bath-stuff.  While that solved the problem of side of tub overflow, our narsty water has quickly stained it....uck.  What to do?  A cover-up cloth curtain for the outside of the tub seemed ideal, but I was not fond of the Walmart choices, the price, and .... well.....nothing suited.  Back to the World Market story-  shower curtains on sale.  REALLY on sale.  I looked at the tame ones, then somehow ended up with a wild Indian print that has every color of the rainbow and that will make my gypsy-bathroom dreams come true!

Barnes and Nobles?  Easy peasy.  New Stephen King book (Joyland).  Found a treat for Ms. Ball.   Ran into Mr. Flowers from Topsail, considerable amount of school chat ensued.  During this time something odd happened- it happens every summer around vacation time, but it did take me unawares...... the desire to 'get something new for going-to-Texas'.

For years and years I have relied on dresses and skirts- comfy,easy, love them.  Last year I saw a not-so-flattering photo of me in one of my then favorites....I immediately vowed to lose weight, get rid of my tummy...yeah, like that happened. Not. So I still wear them...but am a bit self conscious.   Figured though that since I was looking for a belt for Mr. Owens, I would go check out the sales at Mayfaire. (Non-locals, this is the 'upscale' shopping place that is also home to World Market/ B&N).  Wandered into Coldwater Creek, nice stuff, but costs more than the tires.  Went to Belk- beautiful women's clothes on sale, including some awesome Indian-print (still on the shower-curtain groove) dresses and skirts.... but 'on sale' is relative. And the belts?  Well....yeah. Nope.   Tried to go to Kohls, but got lost in traffic...ended up at Old Navy, where of course I bought a sweater.  Then headed over to Target, figuring that I could kill all three birds with one stone.

Oh the deception of Target!  Racks of tempting things on sale, I quickly scooped up no less than five pairs of pants- despite the very confusing sizing (Fits 1,2,3,4,5,6 in American sizes- the fits are cuts, not sizes- until you get to the 'fat lady clothes' where the sizing pretends to be European or something to make us feel better.   As in 'Oh, I wear a size 6 in FLC').  Ok- pair one.  A nice gray....good start....then AWK.  Should of been labeled 'extreme sausage style'.  Fits tight, tight, tight at the bottom, up the legs, then- once the butt is sort of wedged in- all extraneous fat is pushed up, out and over the top.  Not a good look.  Quickly started checking, trying on and discarding the rest of the pants.  No matter the 'fit', or the 'especially for curvy girls'- they all had skinny, skinny legs....and while the curvy girl styles did cover the butt without causing a fatalanche, I still had the sexy silhouette of a blowpop. Not attractive.  Well- I lie- this look *does* work on: Charles's sisters and Movie Wife, all of whom are tall no-butt types, teen age girls who are still in the skinny stage, and the girls from Maple Hill- not small by a long shot, but they make it work and twerk their way to stardom.   But me?  No.  The world is not safe.

Let me rant on the other clothes for a moment:  I am no fashion maven, and 'style and trend' is fine for some- but can't the rest of us please have some plain choices?  Seriously- there were pants in every color, which is good.  A variety of cuts to fit body shapes- even better.  But Skinny cuts? Seriously?  And the plethora of tie-dyed pastels, flower prints, polka-dots etc...... again, kinda fun, good for some, but  people would think I was a couch.  Dresses- lots of dresses, beautiful dresses, even dresses in  the right colors *except* HORIZONTAL STRIPES.  If not totally striped, lets put a strange big horizontal stripe in some sort of 80's neon color right across your tummy or butt.  Now *that's* attractive.   Oh- let's make the whole thing either strapless or spaghetti strapped.  Which means you have the choice of either going braless and looking like you are either an earth-mother throwback or shopping at Walmart in Wallace......or wearing a strapless bra which is a device made by Satan to ruin the whole theory of 'comfortable summer dress'.   T-shirts?  A safe choice, until you realize that the perfect shirt in the perfect color is either bedazzled within an inch of its life, features an age-inappropriate cartoon character, has weird cutouts or itchy lace, or...wait for it...says "Twerk Team" on the back.  Yes, that does exist.  (If you don't know what 'twerking' is- it is a dance that involves bouncing your booty up and down while twisting/squatting/bowing....rather....uh...well, let's just say that it is not something *my* body is capable of doing, or would look attractive doing.  Leave it at that.)

OH- and there are no men's belts at Target.  I didn't have the energy to look for cd's.

I did finally end up at my home Walmart, where belts were located as well as- low and behold- a pair of dark jeans and a pair of short jeans existed that were *not* skinny, not expensive and actually fit.  I guess that I have found my fashion niche.......

Keep calm and Twerk On.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flower storms

Glads from the Yarden

Officially summer- no regular school, it's hot-hot-hot out, rolling thunderstorms and all the glads are blooming.  Mr. Owens has planted lots of glads- I have lost track- but they are sparking out in salmon, flame, purple, yellow and the rare green.  I came home from school on the official last day- which was a dozy for various reasons- and he had two vases full of them, one on the tv, one on my desk.  I pick off the wilted blooms and put them into Turrello's basket, he has a real thing for flowers, and he sleeps contentedly on them in the sun.

The last day of school resulted in an adventure, of course.  No sooner than I arrived than Grendel called- the Saturn had broken down on the way to take Serene to the vet.  Boy, dog, car stranded in 90+ temps, mum to the rescue.  After some magic, Serene made it to the vet, where she was spayed successfully- she is doing fine.  The car got to the mechanics for a new alternator, due for pick up today.  (along with new tires on  Capone- money, money, what can you do?) Boy was kidnapped into forced labor at school with me, where he cleaned the art room, hauled multitudes of trash to the school dumpster via Hobo cart, and did other narsty chores while I did paperwork.  Things worked out for the best, they always seem to in the end.  Lucky that way.

So now, summer.  Teaching online.  Trying to figure out trips, visit everyone, balance everything.  I really miss Mother and want to see her badly- I feel so guilty for not being there, not communicating better.  Now that I am waking up I realize just how shut off from everyone/ everything I have been, and I apologize- will try to do better.  Words are just tricky right now- even the tone of this writing seems a bit off, comes slower than the usual flow of water words.  It will get better, just have to trust and keep going.  Life is good, live it well. 

And that is what happens- I am working on building up to length again writing wise, I am ok with very short things (facebook) and pictures-  images have always been my best way to communicate.  I am at the awkward part of my sketchbook now, where the Spring book is almost finished and I am anxious to start a new one- but I still have a few pages left.  If I leave them blank I feel unaccomplished- I think when I do get to the new one I am going to work from both ends at once and end up in the middle.  Might be better, I don't know.  I did go through all of my sketchbooks- well, the hardbound ones- the other day, dated and labeled them, put them in order.  It's amazing the journey- from the first efforts from undergrad, to my first completed black book in 1999.  Several years to fill one at first, then stepping up to the 'almost filled'- about one per year, then two filled per year, to my current 3-4 per year.  Drawings, writings, notes, memories- my life all sprawled out.  If I count just the 'big blacks', this spring makes number 30.  Plus there are 20 more other sketchbooks- spiraled, large, small, from classes and from long ago- way back when I was a kid.  And that is just what I kept.  There are other books- journals, which were my life-rope during and for the few years after my divorce- the altered books, partially started smaller sketchbooks and the thin 'summer books' where I taught myself various things.  Thousands of pages.  Interesting to me~ and to others? Who knows?  My kids like looking at the Big Blacks, Mr. Owens likes seeing what is in my book-of-the-moment, what will happen to them someday?  Not sure, but they will stick around for awhile, have a better chance of being seen I think than what is online.  I love online, and this blog, but that fades away-  Life is short, Art is long.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Wilmington, NC

Summer!  Finally- wasn't sure I would make it but I did- kids are out of school, virtual school starts tomorrow, just a few teacher workdays left.  Summer.  Transition with all of it's joys and sorrows (yes, I know that is a cliche', but apt.)  Promising myself that next year will be different, that I will do things differently, be a better teacher, have more patience, be involved- be awake and aware.  Hopefully.  Vowing to spend the summer writing on the blog, making art, getting things together for next year- high hopes that balance precariously with the reality of having a hard time getting started on things, wanting to just be still, quiet, alone.  I have a sudden great love of silence.... the aftermath of the chaos I suppose.

Actually, off to a fair good start here- last weekend I power cleaned while Charles was in Charlotte.  The living room, kitchen, studio and bedroom are ready for summer- the bathroom (ick as always) and Rose room need to be done yet.  And the porch, the dog-room that will be transformed into man-cave (one of the potential agenda items for this summer), never ending work on the yarden.  We have had our first tropical storm (Andrea) and the mosquitoes are out in full force, finding me particularly tasty as always.  Let's just say that if I lost a pound for every bite, I would be below my goal weight soon.

Ok.  Updates and roundups, since I haven't posted forever and ever:

The Manz:  is my super-star.  What was a lark last summer- submitted on a whim for an extra bit- has uncovered an unexpected talent and has taken him amazing places, with more to come.  It was just a year ago round about that I put him in for 'Caged'- which turned out to be Iron Man III.   Since he began with that last August he has been in the following movies:  Iron Man III, Catching Fire, Safe Haven, Adrenaline, My Name is Paul, The Remaining, Dale Archdale, We're the Millers,World Made Straight and Tammy.  He is background in most of these- featured in Catching Fire, made the trailer for My Name is Paul.  Television-wise, he has been in: Revolution (ep. 5 and 15), It's Supernatural, Lizard Lick Towing (catch him tossing tables around in ep. 306), Banshee, Homeland, and Under the Dome. You can spot him in upcoming commercials for NASCAR and (a leading softdrink that I can't say in the blog).  He has been working steadily at this- and still tow-trucking between times- has traveled to Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Black Mountain and various other local places for shoots.  (Sometimes I get to go along!  Hopefully lots this summer- though most things are filming locally right now- but we are hoping for at least one trip to Nashville).  We got to attend the Iron Man III local premier and party- fancy eats, champagne, red carpet et all.  Keeping fingers crossed for the Under the Dome premier- downtown at Thalian Hall- Stephen King will be there and I am hoping to get a glimpse!  Other things- saving up for the National Beard Championships in New Orleans in September- working on growing it longer.  The beard is the 'moneymaker' and the longer the better.......

The Boy:  (Who is still my boy, even though grown)  Will graduate in December officially!  Hooray! In the meantime he has moved to a larger, nicer apartment with a new roommate.  Still close to work, but in a much better section of town, the Peppers live in the same complex, and his roommate is nice.  He has finally inherited the Saturn and has his first set of wheels~ and rumor has it that he is looking for a dogg.  (Dogs are welcomed at the apartments- his roommate has a chihuahua, which is supposedly good for a chihuahua, but not his type of dog).  The roommate, btw, is a girl- not a girlfriend, but a girl none-the-less.  He also has moved along at the bookstore, acquiring the small perks that come with being a faithful employee.... looking now ahead to his future career, applying to graduate school for computer science if he hasn't a worthy offer.  Happy, healthy, red-haired- planning summer adventures and living his life.

The Doggs and Turrello:  Max is pleased to announce that he has hair (mostly) on his butt.  Still missing a few patches the spine stripe and by the glands, but it is mostly back.  Bear is the same as usual.  Turrello (the cat) has decided to take up acting like dad- while he hasn't made it on screen yet, he found an old pair of Groucho Glasses (with the nose and mustache) somewhere and that has become his new favorite toy. Along with his unusual love for rose petals (his window basket now has dried rose petals scattered on his quilt- he steals the roses Mr. Owens cuts me from the yarden and plays with them until they fall apart)- Turrello has become quite the.....male equivalent of diva?  Charlie Sheen?

Me:  Ok, me.  It's been a rough year, but we are finally getting things settled down and improved.  Good news is that all the assorted testing turned out ok- there is just a chemical imbalance in the brain that makes the flow of electricity disrupted.  Thus the sleepiness etc.  What is causing it?  We don't know yet, but I started new meds a week or so ago and they are helping.  A LOT.  I still sleep bunches, and am not so great with numbers/time, but I am doing better!  Hooray!  This has been my wake-up call- I am *not* doing leadership things anymore, time to give that load to someone else.  I am going to live, make art, write- do more of what I like and less of what I don't like- the pay is the same, I've glass ceilinged career wise (at the point where I would lose money by going to higher education, but they are cutting teacher pay across the state- at this point I am 'grandfathered' in and safe, but if I left then came back, it would be their opportunity to put me at the new, much lower, tenure-less pay rate.  And I'd have to wait tables.)   Maybe I'll write a book.  Paint everything.  Who knows?  My goal is to enjoy myself and live again- not spend all my hours working.

We are planning on traveling this summer some- out to Texas to see Mother at least- when depends on 'Cupcakes' schedule for filming.  I don't care when- just so we go (I miss Mother- and everyone- terribly)- and just so everything is smooth sailing.