Sunday, November 8, 2015

Just Happy

I'm just happy. I don't have anything profound to say or funny to post.

It's Sunday evening. All my papers were graded and the lessons were planned last night before I went to bed. I got to help out in the church nursery today. Three-year-olds are hilarious!

I'm gradually cleaning out the random clutter that accumulates. It feels good. I feel lighter, cleaner.

Our little family that is living with us is still…living with us. I will be glad and grateful when we are empty-nesters again. But this is fine for now. There are tender moments that compensate for the hard work of getting along with extra housemates day in and day out.

I waffle about retirement. Most days I adore my job and my students and I'm in no hurry to change my lifestyle. But there are days… For now the good days far outnumber the difficult days and I can think of no place I'd rather be than my classroom.

Well, maybe I'd rather be out hiking.

But that doesn't pay very well.

Speaking of waffles, Mark and I splurged and bought ourselves a Black & Decker waffle iron! Amazing! It cooks really good waffles!! It cooks quickly and evenly. After 21 years of marriage, it is such a treat to have a working waffle iron.

Life is good. I'm happy. Maybe I'll go eat a waffle.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Not in the hospital, not in the morgue

I did something really dumb today.

I could be dead right now. Easily.

Almost home, the final turn on to the street I've called home for 36 years, I turned left out of the bike lane and across the street right in front of a car.

The driver slowed, I think.

The car's left front bumper missed my bike's rear tire by inches.

I say I'm all about safety. Mark and I bought more blinky lights for our bikes. We bought more reflectors for our helmets and our ankles. We bought white cycling water-repellant jackets with reflector tape all over them. And we're using the blinky lights and the reflectors and the awesome jackets.

And then I go and do something so stupid and careless I'm ashamed to admit it; I can hardly believe it happened even though I was the one sitting on the bike that almost got hit by a car at the corner of Holmes Lane and Laurel Lane at 4:05 pm today.


Mark has been sweet about it. He hasn't bugged me. I stopped the bike when he caught up with me--after that car plus another one or two had passed--and promised him I would never, never do that again. I promised that I will always come to a complete stop at that intersection and walk my bike across. No more hasty glances over my shoulder assuming everything is ok. Nope, not me.

And Mark, so kindly, hasn't said a word more.

Later this evening, bouncing up the back steps into the house after running a (car) errand, I thought to myself, "I'm so glad I can walk myself up these steps. I'm so glad I'm not in the hospital. So glad I'm not in the morgue."

They say teens think they will live forever, and it's true that they mostly do. But sometimes 60ish folks fall into that trap, too.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bike commuting

Ok folks, I'm ready to make it public: Mark and I are becoming bike commuters this year.

We have ridden to school almost every day for the first two weeks and we are loving it so far.
We feel stronger and healthier. We feel good about spending fewer dollars on gas* and putting fewer pollutants into the air. And it's FUN.

The trip is 3 miles one way. There are some gentle hills, but nothing terribly steep. It's kind of a no-brainer.

The best thing (so far) is that we feel ourselves getting stronger every day. Literally. Every day we are a little less out of breath. At first my knee was bothering me, but not now. We get to school in the morning, and I am just glowing and full of energy. I love it so much!

A few things we've learned already:
1. We must allow more time. Duh. The trip takes 10 minutes by car and 20-25 minutes by bike. Yesterday morning we left the house in the nick of time, only to discover that one of my tires was flat. Mark fixed it and then he forgot his helmet and had to go back. By that point we were only 20 minutes away from being late and I was about to climb in the car, but Mark said he thought we could make it. And we did! We pulled into the school 22 minutes after leaving the house - only two minutes late. But really, we have to allow ourselves a little extra time.

2. Construction sucks. The most obvious route to school, down the main thoroughfare of Molalla Avenue, is under construction for the next couple of months. Torn-up asphalt and patches of gravel are no fun. It's worth it to us to take the "back route" through the middle school and the parking lot of the Presbyterian church, even though it's about 1/2 mile longer that way.

3. The best ride is in the morning. Overall it's more down hill (see the maps above). We have more energy, the roads are quieter, and the sunrises are gorgeous. See below. 'Nuff said.

4. You have to think about your clothing. I made it to school in a long skirt one day this week. Pulled my rain pants up over them for the morning ride. On the way home it was too warm for the rain pants so I "kilted" my skirt by bringing the back hem up between my knees and clipping it to the front of my shirt. Voila! Long baggy shorts.
Then I found this video called "Penny in Your Pants." I think I'll be able to wear lots of skirts!

It's starting to get chillier in the mornings. Today we commented to each other that it won't be long before we need to wear gloves. And maybe something to keep the neck warm.

We haven't had to ride through rain yet. But we know it's coming. We'll see how we do on that day, but for now we are feeling positive and happy about our new commuting style.

5. We're both happy with our bikes. I'm riding the 5-speed green Schwinn bike that my parents gave to me on my 17th birthday. Mark is riding the commuter bike he bought a few years ago, with a comfier seat and new (old school) handlebars.

*So far the money we have saved on gas is more than offset by the money we are spending. New seat and handlebars for Mark. New tubes in both bikes. New headlights and some flashy little gizmos for our spokes. It will take us a little while to recoup our bike investments. But if you add in saved gym memberships, saved time for workouts, and saved time by not being sick, it is WAY more than worth it.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pruning, Gardening, Grief, Guilt

Winter was long and dark.

I grieved my mom's placement in memory care. (It all seemed to happen so fast at the time. Now, looking back, I realize that she was heading into a decline for many months prior to the placement. It can be difficult to see the trajectory when you are living it every day.) (And in January, after 5 months in memory care, she "graduated" into assisted living. She loves having her own apartment. No stinky cranky roommates. A door she can lock. Her own refrigerator. A sign-out/sign-in book that lets her leave and walk a mile or more.) For months I walked a tightrope of guilt that I could no longer keep her safe in my home, and relief that I no longer had to be her caregiver. I felt judged by a few people, but mostly by myself.

I grieved--am still grieving--the estrangement of one of my daughters. It caught be off guard. Should have seen it coming, I suppose. It reminds me of the day Joe and I moved to Oregon, moving away from his parents in southern California. His mother, Eva June, stood in the driveway as we waved goodbye. I can hear her voice wailing, "They've changed the rules! They've changed the rules…" Meaning that in her world, adult children were supposed to live close to their aging parents and care for them, as she had cared so carefully for her parents. We were moving over 1,000 miles away. Escaping. Anyway, that's how I feel about this change in mother-daughter relationship. I want to hold Eva June's hand and wail with her, "They've changed the rules!" I had not known, previously, that such a thing was possible. (Not that I expect my adult children to live near me. But at least stay in touch. I had not known it was possible to walk out of a parent's life.)

Grief silenced me for months.

Sometimes silence is the only way through.

Yesterday, something seemed to turn within me. Mark and I had promised ourselves a day of yard work, but we were true Oregon slugs and didn't get outside until 3:00 pm. Among other chores--it feels so good to work hard!--I pruned the Japanese maple. It had grown into a shapeless bush, a large red leafy mound in the middle of the lawn. I probably cut away 1/3 of the growth. (I want to think of something creative to do with all those weirdly-twisted branches. They are so cool.)

Now the tree has light within. Instead of a lump, it is a lovely tree with shape and sweet interplay of light and shadow.

Mark and I dragged the plastic off the garden bed. We've created our little garden in the front lawn eight years ago, and only one other time have we planted this late, a fact of timing that triggers shame and guilt. For what? Who cares what week the garden gets planted? Just me heaping blame on my own head. So silly.

Woke up this morning planning to water the garden and found that God had already done that chore for me. Robins are cheerio-ing each other.

I feel, finally, the rising juices of spring within me.