Wednesday, March 29, 2017

2017 SOLC Day 29: New moon days

The clouds have been obscuring much of the sky since yesterday; the hours just before my alarm were punctuated with thunderclaps and lightning flashes.  My lunar phase stickers in my planner tell me there's no moon viewing to be had, anyway.  It's the week of the new moon.

New moon days are for taking stock of what is and planning for what we'd like to be.  I find myself taking a harder look at my home (cluttered), my finances (stretched), and my health (diet and exercise routine derailed).  I feel the urge to make changes; the challenge lies in making attainable goals with specific deadlines.  Both are hard for this Piscean dreamer, as I tend to overplan activities and underestimate the time it takes to get things done.

Paying attention to the lunar cycle seems to help, when I remember to look at those moon stickers.  There's something comforting in tapping into the monthly rhythm of planning (new moon), doing (waxing moon), celebrating completion (full moon), and resting (waning moon). My planner has space for doing end-of-month reviews and next-month planning, but tying that in with the new moon near the end of each month makes the process seem more holistic.

I believe women, in general, are drawn to cyclical patterns by virtue of our biology. Now that I am in my crone years, I can let the moon be my guide.
Image from Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

2017 SOLC Day 28: Time well spent

I knock on the door.  My white-mustachioed neighbor answers.  "Come on in!" 

"Actually, I was wondering if Becky would like to join me on my porch," I reply.

"She's working right now, but--" He gets interrupted by his wife.  "I'll be done soon.  Be there in a few minutes," Becky calls from her seat, momentarily pinned down by her laptop.

I head back to my house, catalogs and magazine in one hand, libation in the other.  The afternoon sun is beginning to strengthen, reaching farther into the recesses under the eaves.  Tiny flying insects of varying shapes flit about, and I'm thankful that for now, mosquitoes aren't among them. 

I'm a few pages into the first catalog when Becky joins me, her own beverage in hand.  She takes the other seat, and we proceed to get caught up on each other's day.  Talk of students, testing, the political climate--sticking mostly to climate, not politics--and future plans of travel and learning.  That's one of the many things I love about Becky--she is always learning, always reaching for that next new experience to broaden her horizons and her knowledge.  She glows when she talks about learning something new; that radiance doesn't just come from the knowledge itself, but from her appreciation for those who teach her.  A bit of that glow rubs off on me, after hearing her stories.

Porch time with Becky is always relaxing and refreshing. It is time well spent.  It is the stuff of memories.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." --Maya Angelou 

Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 SOLC Day 27: Different can be frustrating

Change in our routines can be jarring.  When we moved into Army barracks in Germany, I remember almost coming to tears one night when I wandered into my parents' bedroom in search of the bathroom.  In our old house, it was down the hall to the right of my bedroom; in the barracks, it was on the left. This morning, a change in routine might have rudely awakened my husband.

On Saturday night I was frustrated, my fingers crawling up and down the dial with the tiniest of movements on the wheel, attempting to find a radio station to awaken me in the morning.  No such luck; the receiver had given out.

Luckily, my husband had given me a new alarm clock several years ago when I thought the old one was dying.  Just when it seemed completely gone, a station would appear loud and strong, as if the machine was taunting me.  So the new clock had stayed in the box on the floor near my bed, until Saturday.  I plugged it in, read the instructions, and set the alarms.

I awoke unusually early on Sunday, and turned off the alarms so as not to wake my still-slumbering husband.  Turning the alarms completely off is easy; there are sliding buttons on the far left and right, and I know they are off when the lighted dots go out.

This morning I awoke to the alarms for the first time, and had a moment of panic when I realized the reset button is a bit harder to find in the dark.  It's tiny and located in the middle of the clock's top, so there were a few second of fumbling and feeling around before I figured it out.  I can only imagine what my husband was thinking, knowing his alarm goes off an hour and a half later than mine.  I will have to study the buttons tonight and imprint locations in my memory, or risk having a crabby spouse later!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

2017 SOLC Day 26: Root bound

The Meyer ferns on the back porch were in a sad state.  The fern in the eighteen inch container had never recovered from the frost; there was nothing left but the stubs of dead branches I had cut back a few weeks ago.  The other plant in a twenty-four inch pot had a half-dozen new green branches, but the dead stubs of several years' growth threatened to crowd out any newer shoots.

I decided to work on extricating the smaller, dead plant first.  I didn't want to just dump out the pot because I wanted to save some of the soil.  So I dug in with pruning shears and a trowel, cutting into the roots and pulling them out.

An hour and a half later, I was able to remove the heart of the plant.  It took me another hour to cut and pull the rest of the roots and their large nodules. The fern had been rootbound twice over; last summer, this container had replaced one which cracked open from the forceful underground growth.

I couldn't help but find a life lesson as I hacked away on this project for hours.  As important as it is to have roots, we cannot afford to become rootbound.  Old ways of thinking and doing can become as restrictive as old pots. Every once in awhile, it's good to examine our long-held beliefs and habits, see what fits and what's holding us back.  We need to give ourselves room to expand and change and grow.  

It may take some pruning, as I did with the other fern, cutting away the dead woody bits and half the root system and separating it into two new plants, with plenty of room for each to grow and spread with fresh new soil and fertilizer to feed them.  I left plenty of roots alone, of course, to continue feeding the new growth. We need to feel grounded enough to have the courage to reach for those new ideas and habits. 

Are you feeling rootbound?  If so, what can you do to change those feelings?  What things, beliefs, relationships, situations need to go, and what needs to stay?  I'll be thinking about those questions today.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

2017 SOLC Day 25: Light chatter

"Bioluminescence is the most widely used form of communication on the planet."--W.H. Beck, Glow: Animals with Their Own Night-Lights

I've read this sentence ten times this week, as part of my Book Nook time with our kindergarten classes. There are some weird and wonderful facts presented in this great nonfiction book, but the quote above is my favorite pause-and-comment point during the read-aloud.

Think about what this sentence means, I tell the students as I repeat the words.  

It means that that are more living creatures who use light to talk with each other than there are

people who use words
lions that roar
dogs that bark
cats that meow
crickets who chirp
birds who tweet

all the sounds that creatures make to communicate with each other.  

Light wins over sound, mostly because at least half of the living creatures on earth exist underwater.  I find these facts fascinating, leading to thoughts of the dark, silent depths of our oceans and the amazing creatures scientists are finding there.  I'm also looking forward to the return of the fireflies in our yard and park beyond.  

Bioluminescence--light chatter-- is the word of the week.

Friday, March 24, 2017

2017 SOLC Day 24: A dab here, a swoop there

My grandfather was an artist.  I remember seeing india-ink sketches of dogs on his wall; I can picture a stub of drawing charcoal in his hands.  He hadn't painted in years when I asked him for a picture for my college graduation; he obliged his only granddaughter with a pastel-yellow floral still life, one that I display every spring over the mantel. It was his last painting.

I have my mother's first and last paintings, too, the first a landscape, the last a still life in autumnal shades.  She didn't get to finish the latter herself; ALS weakened her limbs before the background was done.  A kind friend who attended the same painting classes finished it for her, only signing the back in case we wondered about the discrepancy in style.

High school art classes were challenging for me.  I gave my one and only oil painting, an abstract of a blown-up clock, to my brother.  Since then, my only forays into creative expression on canvas have been sessions at sip-and-paint franchises, following step-by-step exercises in the hopes of duplicating the instructor's picture.

I set a goal for myself this year to paint an original piece.  The universe must have heard my intentions, because within weeks I opened a Seton Cove flyer to find a class entitled "Painting for Well-Being".  My last two Thursday evenings have been spent in the Cove's beautiful cottage downtown, paintbrush in hand.  Our small group was led by Christiane, who gave us seemingly simple tasks to stoke our creativity and focus, and then allowed ample time to create, building on or even covering that which we painted first.

The two-hour sessions flew by quickly.  My usual end-of-workday tiredness slipped away as I focused on color and placement, texture and emotion.  I felt so much more relaxed on my drive home.  I think my grandfather's easel will be dusted off this summer, and I'll be visiting the art store for some fresh acrylic paints.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

2017 SOLC Day 23: Important item

I was asked once again to be the reader of the prompt for our fourth grade writing camp, and promised to use that same prompt for my next blog post.  My writing assignment this morning :  Think of an item that is important to you.

I received a very unexpected gift twenty-eight years ago, one that I thought I would never get from anyone. Many of my friends had received similar gifts, and their lives were much different than mine as a result.  Since I truly did not anticipate ever getting such a gift, I was content in enjoying their good fortune.

What's funny is that I picked out my own present, without knowing it.  My boyfriend had taken me shopping early in the fall.  We walked into a jewelry store, and he suggested that we look at the emerald jewelry section.  My favorite color has always been green, so I happily obliged, looking at necklaces and trying on rings.  We left without purchasing anything.

With Christmas around the corner, I thought I might receive a piece of emerald jewelry as a gift.  But Christmas came and went--no jewelry.  My early March birthday arrived--still no jewelry.  I put the thought of our window shopping out of my head.

St. Patrick's Day fell on a Friday that year.  It was also the last day of school before Spring Break, and my students had been a bit rowdy.  I was feeling grumpy by the time I got home and needed some time to decompress.  The phone rang almost as soon as I closed the front door, interrupting the quiet space I craved.  

My boyfriend was calling, telling me I needed to be ready to leave in an hour. He refused to answer questions about where we were going, which made me mad because I didn't know what to wear.  I finally settled on some white shorts and a green top--it was Saint Patrick's Day, after all.

He picked me up in his car and drove to Mount Bonnell, a scenic park in Austin overlooking Lake Travis.  We climbed the stairs and walked a bit along the path, not saying much because I was still ill-tempered from my school day.  Coming to a spot with a chair-sized boulder, he asked me to sit with him; I refused to sit on the rock, because I was wearing white shorts!  So I sat on his lap, and we looked at the water below for a few quiet moments.

Out of the blue, he prefaced his next question by stating my full name--first, middle, confirmation, and last--and ended with a marriage proposal.  I said yes without a thought, feeling the weight of the question after my reply. My boyfriend presented a beautiful emerald ring, and slipped it on my finger.  I was in a much better mood walking out of that park!

Years later, my husband told me that he almost didn't propose that day, because I was so grouchy.  I'm so glad he did!  My engagement ring is a very important item. I admire it every day, thankful for my husband's proposal and the wonderful life we have made together.