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A huge part of me hopes that the triumph of the San Francisco Giants over the Texas Rangers in tonight's conclusion to the 2010 world series is a precursor for this nations political future. I look for signs of hope just about anywhere!
This boy, he is 15, sweet, maybe gay, maybe bi, certainly confused and searching for answers. How can he pursue his life with a sense of liberty, and a shot at happiness in a nation that is intolerant?
A young man, born in the USA of parents without papers. Will this nation classify him an “illegal alien?”
The punditocracy has reached a crescendo. In a half hour, polls on the east coast close. Slowly speculation will be replaced by reality. Mean time, I decide to turn off the radio and retreat from the TV, the constant conjectures weary me.
This has been a crazy political “wave” which may cause deepening harm. I fear that this nations progress toward achieving a core principle; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, is at risk.
Maybe it is because I am older now, and the years I have left to work toward undoing the damage done, steadily decreases.
When I was young I was sure that my most treasured dreams and goals would come true. Now that I’m older, it is clear that some things won’t happen, some are a long shot, and others don’t matter any more. Yet there are dreams I had, that I still cherish and hope will happen some day.
Every year the time left for me to accomplish my goals decreases. One by one I shed little hopes, grieve bigger losses, narrow my expectations, and focus on what is most precious to me: nurturing relationships and loving this beautiful planet.
A crystal sliver of moon floats inches above the horizon, immersed in deep indigo night. When the sun rays begin to seep into the eastern skyline, ever lighter tones of blue wash into muted lime, bringing the round moon into silhouette.
Wy’east, almost able to caress her sweet winking moon, remains immobile. Still she is majestic in an intensifying sea of tangerine.
And then it’s over.
I pull into the school parking lot, find an open space, turn off the lights, set the windows, grab my gear, and jettison from this ambient vision into another day, another dollar.
When a district office administrator and colleague from way back, called me for an answer to a simple question, because he couldn’t make contact with a building administrator to get the information, I took note.
Later I spent the student lunch hour walking around the courtyard because I knew we were short on Security, and besides, the sun was out.
Near the end of the school day, when the building budget secretary called because she was the only person still at work in the main office, I heard her panic as she gasped, “thank God you answered the phone!”
for the reason that, on account of.
Because he could not make contact, because I knew we were short on Security, because she was the only person.
Because I am old school at a new school; the writing was on the wall, I knew what would happen when I signed on. Because he’s a friend from way back. Because we are a team, I need Security and on days like this I give them my support. Because I am here, and she needs help, and what am I being paid for if not for that?
dinner with old friends
book club, wine lovers
one clock at a time
watched dances with wolves
past midnight standard time
sunny day, mostly
short on white wine
so we polish off
a bottle of rose
cornish game hen
in the crock pot
dog asleep on a rug
last light on
poplar and maple
framed in blue sky
shreds of clouds
in their branches
harbingers of cold
then sip long draughts
koi grow sluggish
but swiftly rise to feed
leaves give up
Monday morning, first period, Rose leans into my door and asks if I have a minute. Looking up from the middle of a log-in sequence, I nod.
On the verge of tears, she is exasperated with the system, with the expectation of her, with the insatiable need of young people to get drunk and high, and with her limited ability to make a goddamned bit of difference when the parents are denying or enabling, the community at large is unwilling to pay for our jobs, and the whole damn cupcake stand of services is about to be shut down.
There is more. So I listen and empathize knowing her work takes much more out of her emotionally than mine does. After 29 years, I will not sacrifice myself at the alter of public service. She doesn’t want to, but the nature of her position, and her ability to help hard core at risk students, leads to increased exhaustion, a sense of helplessness, and a heightened awareness of how little support she can count on from other quarters.
I offer small solutions for parts of her concerns that I can influence. She is thankful for my ear, heart, help.
It startles me how long it takes to accomplish a small promise. On Monday I offered to see about getting more aides in our office. It is Wednesday before I have a quiet moment to talk with Tanya about Rose’s request, and to listen to Tanya’s desire not to have her space encroached upon all day.
We settle on a workable solution, and I begin to look for students. Then my access to on line information drops. I am stuck. I shut it down and reboot repeatedly. Exasperated, my desire to do anything is thoroughly shut down too.
National day of observance, Veteran’s day, previously known as Armistice Day; that moment in history when the Great War (WWI) officially ended. And though the peoples and nations involved throughout the globe wanted to believe it really was ‘the war to end all wars,’ the ensuing century has nullified that fantasy.
I was born shortly after the end of WWII, and grew up during the Cold War, though there were still hot wars all around the world, like Afganistan. Then came the Vietnam War, the never declared war which swept my generation into Vietnamese jungles, and onto USA streets.
Once again the school is running at two thirds. Many staff called in sick, seniors seem to think they should have more than one senior skip day, an unsanctioned “personal holiday” which many parents simply write notes to excuse.
Being on campus is nice on these days because the number of students is just about right for the facilities. I am reminded of the first couple years after Union first opened, when the student body was just right, and I could actually meet my goal of knowing most students on my case load by name, and all staff as well.
Rainy morning gives me permission to draw. Last week I made a nice illustration of a Downy Woodpecker, thinking it might work for our holiday card, but it was better all on its own. Today I use a crisp photograph of a Bewick Wren, to create a drawing of that sassy, little, brown bird.
The more I translate the images of these tiny fathered bodies from photographs to drawings, the closer I come to getting it right. Although I use photos to capture their images, only by watching them in action in my gardens, do I understand their unique spirits.
It was hard to call it fog, though it might have been. Somehow the texture, first dense then penetrable, seemed more like mist. Droplets of fragmented vapor, suspended both in their descent from clouds and their ascent from sodden earth, melded into damp dawn.
Pressing her nose against the window pane, she created an equally obscure vision inside. Wish as she might to stay within the warm bosom of home, she knew doing so would encourage rumors. Not kind ones.
Rich humus soil seeks balance by yielding the yeasty growth of fungus. She wondered what harvest this day would bring.
When we click, there is a sense of elation, a joy that comes from hearing the product of our combined musical effort. It is present as the song begins, when my voice hits just the right note and tenor while Bill and Creighton provide a superb foundation of support, followed by inspired, solo work of their own. When we finish, just right, with my last word hitting a concluding chord, and the guys fingering the last strings to the end, ah! What a delight!
In this way practice unfolded yesterday, with one tune after another well executed, and lovingly interpreted.
She is medium tall, athletic with long dark hair and sad brown eyes. At fourteen she is young for high school. The drama of middle school intrigue still dominates her reaction to social situations. But all is overtaken by flashbacks and fear.
He had cold hands, he forced sex on her in a closet. She saw him recently at a high school ball game.
She can no longer stand to have any one touch her, not even her girl friends. But she longs to be able to hold hands with a boyfriend and not feel that sickening chill of revulsion.
Big cold front moves into the Pacific Northwest from Alaska, riding the edge of mega moisture swept in from the ocean. Migrating geese swarm across the skies. Seem confused. Some stop to rest, eat, drink, others continue their flight, calling loudly to their gaggle.
How many shades of gray are there in a box of crayons, pastels, or colored pencils? Not enough to accurately depict the ever changing skyline we face from daylight to dusk, as the seasonal shift to winter closes over the land.
Shades of gray, the delicate mixture of black and white, of light and its absence.
She sent an email about this kid a week ago to his counselor and me. Since he wasn’t mine, I let it go, but out of curiosity I checked his photo. Then I realized he was the same kid another student had told me about saying he’d just told him to “get out of my face, and don’t bug me anymore.”
The kid is a social misfit, someone with no sense of grace, conversation, physical space, or appropriate behavior. In short a very screwed up teen, who now is on the verge of taking his own life.
A dentist appointment had me out of the building early yesterday afternoon. This morning I learned that the kid had evaded his counselor all day, and at the end of the day the school Resource Officer (policeman) had to apprehend him, cuff him, and transport him to the local hospital. The plan is to have the kid evaluated at Oregon Health Science University. Good.
His older sisters, twins, are strange ducks too. They never smile, never emote at all. Both are serious string instrument players. When they walk across campus in the same direction they go single file. Very odd.
Project feederwatch is on. All day long Creighton and I tiptoe into the kitchen, trying not to startle any birds chowing down at our feeding stations when we look out the windows. Our list of species and number sighted grows.
Red Shafted Flicker is the biggest and most shy visitor we get. I have ordered a more stable suet feeder for Flickers because it is almost torturous to see them jockey their 15 inch bodies down the narrow hanger to cling precariously on a small wire suet cage, a maneuver they repeat each time they return after being frightened away.
Snow! Thick, heavy flakes drift down, slowly, lightly. Not enough to play in, but enough to cause my world to become ever so much quieter. A hard freeze is on the way, and I secretly wish for a late start in the morning. They are little gifts of time, provided by inclement weather, when school starts two hours later than normal, and we are not required to make it up. Though I don’t sleep in as students do, it is nice to have a leisurely cup of coffee and work on one of my personal projects for a while.
No such luck today. Only outlying school districts have enough snow to call for late starts or closures. It’s OK. After all, there are only two school days this week anyway - I can handle that.
But people don’t realize educators do not receive pay for holidays and vacations. We don’t work, we don’t get paid. To keep from allowing my monthly income to bottom out, I opt to have all my earnings prorated over twelve months. It is not a generous income, and has been declining yearly as the economy has struggled and tax revenues decreased.
By the end of school yesterday, menacing steel gray clouds had engulfed the western half of Washington state and were steadily moving east of the Cascade Mountains and south into Oregon. The temperature which had hovered in the 40’s was plummeting to below freezing, and reports from Seattle affirmed the system brought snow and hazardous driving conditions.
If I was a gambling lady, I could have made a pile by betting against school being out, or there being a late start today. Every other school district in the region delayed or closed school. Hey, it was Friday on Tuesday.
For a few years, when mom was alive, and before my husband went crazy, we hosted my family for Thanksgiving. Then the festivities went back to being at my sister’s home, and after my husband got on her shit list, he took me to Beach Haven for the week of Thanksgiving.
Though a nice get away, and a healthy break, when my salary was reduced by $4,000 two years ago, that luxury had to go. This year, as last, we will have a family gathering at my niece’s home, and I look forward to it very much.
She held out her lovely small hand, wiggling the delicate gold ring with her thumb. “Remember this?” she asked, looking at me with tender adult eyes. “It seems familiar,” I hedged, “need my glasses...” Then she recounted the story.
I had found the ring decades ago, and as a child, she coveted it. She borrowed it once, and eventually I gave it to her. When the tiny diamond was lost recently, she left the ring with her mother to take to their trusted jeweler. Now two small gems nestled into the gold, an emerald and an aquamarine, her mother ring.
When one is good at something, one is asked to do it again. So it was, when Todd wondered who could say grace, Lynn fingered me. I had maybe five minutes to prepare, and walked outside to get a grip; muse a minute. Then Marie handed me a phone with my younger sister on the line; the one who had just gotten married (her 4th).
Start with a salutation: “Oh God our father, Spirit of the Universe” that’s my favorite. Then give thanks and praise for all we have, ask for a continuation of our blessings, and say amen.
One by one she popped the pomegranate gems out from their protective membrane, and discarded the bitter leavings. Standing by her side, I snatched a small nugget, and stripped the bright fruit with my teeth. While munching their sweet tartness, she told me a story from our childhood.
Every winter the grocer in our small northern town took special orders for fresh citrus fruit to be delivered at Christmas. Mom and dad purchased oranges, some lemons, and one pomegranate. On Christmas eve, the pomegranate was shared among the five of us, and made abundant with bowls of buttered popped corn.
When a friend ordered calendars from my website, I realized she was looking at last year’s images on a page I had yet to update. Aargh, I raged at myself! After explaining the mishap to her, I immediately went to the website to make necessary corrections, and, on cue, my login didn’t work.
Calmly I requested a new password, which came, and didn’t work. Three more times I got new passwords and none of them worked. Angry, I perseverated, pushing the keyboard buttons like banging a vending machine. And damn it, I still couldn’t get in!!
A sinus cold has me home, feeling feverish, with tissue stuffed up my nostrils to keep from dripping all over the place. I get grumpy when ill. I’m not one of those people who likes to play sick to get attention or to be cared for. I like to get things done, and this definitely slows me down.
But, I finished two Nora Ephron books about the silly and sad side of being a woman getting older; er that is, getting old. Though on the light side, and maybe because of that, I found both books to be refreshing.
It was just too much. I was not able to get into my personal website, and then, though I could log into 100 words, when I selected ”write” I was returned to log in again, and again, and oh my God, I am not a patient person with computer snafus!
Finally the suggestion came to try a different browser, which Creighton installed for me and now I can access and post to both sites. Whew.
Sad though, how I kept trying the same thing over and again, like the definition of insane, like a pigeon pecking a button for grain.
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