Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday Slice: Babies on my back porch

It's butterfly season again.  Or to be more specific, caterpillar season.

Most of my milkweed is shoulder-high, making it easier to stoop and look under leaves for my yellow-and-black striped visitors.

Do two sets of horns mean monarch, or queen?  It had been a year since I last hosted the caterpillars, so I had to look it up.  Monarchs for the win!

Last year I used a sun tea jar to house the caterpillars until they turned into chrysalises, but it was difficult to transfer them to a bigger space.  This time I'm using a box on the back porch.  Little bud vases are just the right size to cover with plastic wrap and keep the milkweed fresh for a day or two.

With a little luck, we'll see four monarchs born in the next few weeks! 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tuesday Slice: Grownups need reader advisors, too

Rambling through Facebook posts this past summer, one caught my eye.  The American Library Association had shared a post from the Multnomah County Library in honor of National Tattoo Day.  If you shared a picture of your tattoo and the story behind it, the county library would recommend a book for you.

So I shared a picture of my most recent tattoo, and the story behind it. An owl for wisdom, the light of the moon to guide me, and writing my own story past my 51st birthday--the age at which my mother passed from ALS.
Multnomah responded within a day. Their recommendation: Wild:From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, about a woman picking up the pieces of her life after her mother's death.

I would have never picked this book for myself.  I saw the movie trailers, and remember thinking "meh" about the content.  But I've spent several hours over the last three days reading about Cheryl's chaotic young adulthood, empathizing with the raw emotions that fueled her rash decision to walk a thousand miles in the wilderness by herself.

Adults need reader's advisors, too.  My life's work is encouraging students to read and pairing them with books to suit their personal and academic wants and needs.  It's been awhile since someone's done that for me--and it feels like a gift in my hands, each time I open this book.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tuesday Slice: The changing of the purse

It's the day after Labor Day, and you probably won't find me wearing white shoes until March.  I don't remember blatantly being told "wear white between Memorial Day and Labor Day", but I do remember wearing patent white shoes to church for Easter.  Maybe my penchant for cyclic colors started when I was young, attending Catholic Mass. Ceiling-hung banners, altar cloths, and priestly vestments declared the liturgical season--green for Ordinary Time, purple for Advent and Lent, white for Easter and Christmas.  Speaking of green, here's the purse I sported through spring and summer:
Now that I reside in the endless summer of central Texas, I like to think that my color choices are more practical than fashion.  I cannot fathom attracting even more heat by wearing dark brown and black in triple digit temperatures, so those clothes stay boxed up until September.  We're dropping down into the eighties this week--a cold front!--and my air-conditioned workplace will keep me comfortable in darker hues.  Come March, though, I'll tire of my fall and winter colors.  Spring Break will find me unpacking the light greens, yellows, and peaches of my warm-weather clothing yet again. 

Here's to the turning of the seasons, starting with a new purse.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tuesday Slice: Seventeen inches

I emptied the rain gauge thrice last weekend, keeping track of the amount each time.  One and a half, then six, then six and a half, then three.  Seventeen inches of rain from Friday through Sunday.

We had electricity with only one "blink", running water, gas, and food in the pantry.  Our thirsty yard soaked up the water, as did the field behind us and the grassy culvert beyond.  Some blustery gusts knocked small bits of branches down without damage to our house or cars. 

Widen the circle a bit, and we had friends without power for up to twenty-four hours.  A tree was waterlogged and split in a neighbor's yard.  Flooded low-water crossings prompted official requests to stay home, or at the very least "turn around, don't drown".  We complied for the most part, my husband running some errands on Sunday but coming back frustrated with an incomplete merchandise return due to downed computers at a store.

The news to the southeast was more dire.  Evacuations of floodplains, highways under water, towns gone.  I stayed glued to Facebook for much of the weekend, checking in with friends in the hurricane's path and watching weather reports and live footage.  So far, the friends are all right, high and dry, though one family will be dealing with damage to their almost-new home.

It felt surreal to go back to work yesterday, with a two-hour delay to accommodate more rain, knowing that the sprinkles hitting my windshield were nothing compared to what our coast will continue to get throughout the week.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuesday Slice: One less

A song from 1970 has been running through my head the last week.  It started one morning as I was emptying the dishwasher, thinking about all the drinking glasses my son went through in a day.  It occurred to me that there would be a lot less to put away once he started college.

"One less bell to answer..."  No more getting up from a comfy seat to open the door when he's locked himself out.  No more phone calls to be picked up from a friend's house, or requests for chicken and fries on my way home from work.

"One less egg to fry..."  He doesn't eat fried eggs.  But this summer of recovering from jaw surgery found us focusing on what he could eat, and trying to get as much of that in him as possible.  I'm happy to report that he's found at least one cafeteria on campus with grilled chicken he can "eat".  He knows he has to meet with a nutritionist this week to make sure he continues to gain weight. 

"One less man to pick up after..."  We just got home Sunday night from college move-in, so there's still the aftermath of packing to deal with.  We'll clean up his spot at the table, wash his bed linens for his next trip home, and do the last bit of laundry in his hamper (though I suspect he'll return with more).  But there will be no school papers strewn on the living room floor this fall, no eyeglasses left in the hallway, no sneakers to trip over.

"I should be happy...But all I do is cry."  The one line that doesn't ring true for me.  I am happy for our newest college student.  I thought I'd cry when I came home to an empty house, but have yet to shed a tear.  Chalk it up to exhaustion from the move or the chaos of starting my own school year in the library, or maybe it's the feeling that we have graduated as parents.  Our fledgling has left his little cage of home for the aviary of college, and I am looking forward to seeing him fly.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday Slice: Chaos and control


The frenetic thoughts ignited by the buzzing alarm
Tiptoeing around a cluttered home
      and the pillows knocked to the floor by the couch-sleeper
Adding to the ever-growing pile of college dorm supplies overtaking the living room
Baking pans and mixing bowls left in the sink
Papers on the dining room carpet displaced by the air conditioner
Papers on my desk threatening to avalanche
Papers at work calling out to be filed
The library arranged for adults not children
Tables everywhere 
Cables in dangling tangles
Chairs stacked at odd angles
My attitude at odd angles


Getting up in the dark with time to spare
Dressing in workout clothes
Morning coffee in a favorite mug
The familiar routine of writing
Lists written and items crossed off at home and school
Emails written and answered
Appointments made and kept
My work clothes laid out the night before
Healthy food cut up and packaged for the week
Reaching for the water instead of the wine
Turning off screens and going to bed before the evening news
The grateful thoughts penned in my journal as I set my alarm.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tuesday Slice: After the rain

The rain started around 4am on Monday, thwarting my plans for a walk in the predawn gloom.  I did a quick workout indoors after gently awakening my son for his morning dose of antibiotics and extricating him from the couch, his preferred sleep locale when his tiny bedroom gets too hot or cold.

My husband found a nail in one of my tires over the weekend, so I was forced to drive our ancient Durango in the pouring rain to my first day of work for the school year--an all-day meeting for district librarians. The rain even affected my planned wardrobe; I put aside the cute dress and lacy shoes, opting instead for jeans and rubber boots, not knowing how far away I'd have to park.

The precipitation lasted as long as our meeting.  We were rained on as we walked between portable buildings to meet with vendors, and as we stood in line at the food truck for lunch, a row of umbrellas gently poking at one another as we chatted about the details of our summer break.

The sun broke through as we left for the day, the rising temperature and humidity making for a sticky walk back to our cars.  Overwhelmed by a growing to-do list, coming home to a teenager rightfully frustrated by recent medical woes that I could not fix, I decided to go for a walk on our hike and bike trail.

Lush greens, purple martins swooping to catch the buzzing insects, and happy dogs straining their owners' leashes soothed my soul at the end of a long day.