Sunday, November 30, 2014

Giving Thanks

I'm not sure that I even have pictures to accompany this blog post. But anyway, we had Thanksgiving, camera or no. I think I can scrounge something up.

And it was lovely! Neither G nor I love traveling by car when the mountain passes in Washington are frozen. Usually, as was the case this year, they were frozen. So we just make plans to eat at home and have a quiet, four day weekend together.

I found a great sale on fresh, unfrozen Dungeness crab (less than 100 miles from here). G made mashed potatoes and a scrumptious cream cheese brownie from scratch.  I made candied sweet potatoes.  We feasted and held hands and talked about how lucky our lives are and all of the good things in them. Among those blessings are that my mother in law is home from the hospital and recovering from a recent illness.  We couldn't be happier.

We went for a walk in the cold fresh air. It was bright and chilly and we saw several others out doing the same.  I steered us towards the outlook with a  clear view of the Kittitas Valley.  Very fun.

The next day, we walked around in our downtown area and visited a small bookshop that a friend of mine owns.  The local food bank, FISH, unexpectedly caught fire that morning and the talk of the town is how people who needed it would get food. I think that Ellensburg is a pretty good community.  Fiscally and socially conservative, but they realize the great necessity of charity. And charity begins at home in the community.

Immediately a new command center was set up and volunteers were rerouted. The building was insured and recently inspected, thank goodness.  And even though the Thanksgiving food had been distributed, the Christmas stuff they were readying were a total loss.  The whole building is a 100% loss.

I had to grade papers today but asked G if he wouldn't mind running to the store. He made a list of what the food bank said they needed most and got some of everything, dropping it off at a local church. When I asked what was going on, he said there were so many donations pouring in that he was almost unnoticed.
Bought this tea pot at a local business. I love it!

And that warms my heart. Not just that but the number of businesses that immediately put up donation boxes. That a community would recognize that everyone is important, that food and shelter and a hot meal are basic human rights, and that they would also act on that.  I'm glad to be part of this community, if for only that reason alone.
G made me breakfast on Saturday. 

It was so pretty outside I opened the door
We are coming up on the great escape to Europe- just a few weeks out now.  I'm excited but it brings up a problem for Christmas. I'm sort of hoping nobody gives us gifts this year because we won't be able to receive them until we get back (I'm purposely being vague on dates because, you know, internet). And we're getting everything sent out hopefully by the end of next week. Is it bad to ask that instead of sending me a gift, a kind and thoughtful person would make a donation to charity in my name and let me know?  Because if you know me at all, you know that's the sweetest thing you could do for me.

Ah well. Tomorrow is back to the grind, until the end of the quarter. We'll get everything wrapped up and ready to go. Then it's time for final preparations, packing, and before we know it...whoosh!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ten Days of Gratitude

I know an amazing group of women in Norman, Oklahoma.  Several years ago, they did the hard work of helping me grow into a responsible, less neurotic, and more balanced person  that I am today.  I don't think it can be overstated the impact their friendship has had on me. Hopefully, I contributed to their lives as well in a small way.

Since we moved to Washington, I've mostly kept up with them on Facebook. I see their families grow up. I see them becoming parents and grandparents and going out into the world and doing good things.  They make me happy and I love keeping in touch even from afar.  One of these friends created a group called 21 Days of Gratitude. This is my first real chance to participate- ten days in.  Ah well, better late to the party than never.  Here are the prompts and my responses.

Day 1: What do you have enough of?
I have enough love. I am a well loved person. I have friends, family, people I care about. Pets. Friends pets. Friends kids and their pets. And students.  Yes, there's lots of love. The more you give away, the more you have.  Works for compassion too. 

Day 2: Who do you know that you could never repay?
I could never repay Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for his impact on my life.  Nor Michel Foucault, or Paulo Freire for their guidance through theory and practice. They all changed my world, made it bigger, and made it ok for me to make mistakes and learn from them. 

Day 3: What do you take for granted?
My safety. I live in a relatively safe place.  I never felt secure until I bought my own house, and even then my hypervigilance took a long time to go away. I'm still a light sleeper. I worry for people who do not live a life where they can exit their homes alone at night or who live in fear of a loved one. I try to create a space in my classroom, not just of physical safety, but where students can be comfortable and free from ridicule and bullying. 

Day 4: What inconvenience are you grateful for?
We made a decision a few years ago when we moved to Washington that we would walk to work and home every day. It's inconvenient, especially when I'm running late. But I'm grateful because this imposes discipline in me, and gets me out in the fresh air twice every single day. And we save gas and don't add more pollutants to the atmosphere. 

Day 5: What is your most precious memory?
I have a lot of them. They're not just memories about things that have happened to me- like getting my black belt or graduating with my Ph.D.  I have precious memories that revolve around people I love. Nieces and nephews graduating from high school, a first day of college, holding my great niece for the first time and watching her little smile. Spending summers at my grandparents house when I was a kid. Fishing with my grandpa. There was this one time I went out on my sister's boat with her, her husband, and their son.  Beautiful water, crab pots out, swimming off of the boat.  It was really magical. And, of course, the day that G and I got engaged. We were at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City. I'll tell you about it sometime...

Day 6: Which artist lights up your world?
Picasso. Not just his cubist paintings, though those are mind-blowing. 

Want to see one I really like?

I've been thinking about this as a tattoo for about 6 years now.  My friend Kat has it on her shoulder and said it would be ok if I did the same. I might do it. If I ever get around to it. I may settle for a framed print. 

Day 7: How have you changed for the better?
This is going to sound sad, but it's happy. I'm much better at accepting love than I used to be. 

Day 8: What do you know that you never want to forget?
That being a freshman in college is hard and that I don't know about other people's lives. That it's best to leave my assumptions at the door and listen to what they need rather than overlay what I want. 

Day 9: What's the best compliment you have ever received or given?
I've gotten some really nice compliments. G paid me the compliment of respect.  Ok, he still is respectful. And being loving when I don't really feel lovable. And he uprooted his whole life to come here to Washington.  He loves it here, which is a relief. It's a powerful thing to have someone not just say they believe in you, but to bet heavily on you. 

And the other day, I overheard my students talking about me. They were talking about how old they thought I was.  One said that I reminded her of a cool aunt and that she'd like to hang out with me when I wasn't her teacher. 

Maybe the real compliment is in the high number of students who take multiple English classes from me.  I'm not an easy grader, but I'm glad they still think it's worth their time. It makes me feel valued as I derive a bit of my self esteem from teaching. 

Day 10: What's the best advice you have ever received?
My husband gave me this one- it's from his mom (My favorite mother in law!): 

"Don't borrow sorrow from tomorrow"

And since my favorite MIL is currently in hospital and I tend to worry about her incessantly, I'm trying to remember this one as a mantra for today. 

That's it, peeps! All the stuff I'm grateful for today.  That and personal space heaters at work. And that my quarter is wrapping up nicely and that we're heading across the world in less than 4 weeks. 
I'm also grateful for soup and two legs that work and chiropractors. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In Other News...

I think sometimes during the school year, I get all up in my work and forget the world around me.
G is very patient about this.  He generously lets me do my thing in the evenings, a day on the weekends, and whenever I have some big grading project going on. So when I got the opportunity to show him how much I value his friendship, love, and understanding, I took it.

We went to Seattle last weekend.  I didn't tell him that's where we were headed; I just said that he should wear layers and sturdy shoes. He initially thought we were hiking in Wentachee.  I sort of blew it when I said we'd be going over Snoqualmie Pass. Ah well. He had no idea what we'd be doing.

First stop was brunch at the incredible Seattle restaurant The Dahlia Lounge. Great food, great service, great time. G loves a good restaurant and that set the mood for the whole day.  Then I gave him a choice: the Seattle Art Museum or the Seattle Aquarium. You can't do it all in one day, not with a two hour drive each way. The SAM has a pop departures exhibit right now, but we've already visited there a couple of times.  He opted for the aquarium, with their touchable sea animals exhibits and outdoor enclosures right on the city pier. The animals seem pretty happy there. They have plenty of room to roam (except for the river otters; they need miles and miles). There were divers, octopi, and an under the sea sort of dome with hundreds of salmon, halibut, sturgeon, and multitudes of others.  Lots of people too. It was amazing.

Our last stop- since we'd been walking most of the day- was my last surprise. A movie. This may not seem like a big deal.

However. G likes nothing more than a good movie and since we moved to a little town, the nearest art house theater is in Seattle.  We saw Birdman, with Michael Keaton, Ed Norton, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts (among others).  G said it was the best movie he's seen this year.  I agree.
Add caption
It was a beautiful day

Look at his sweet face! Reminds me of the Neverending Story.


This Guy..

In other news, it finally froze last night. Hard freeze; got down to 17f.  The rest of the week is cold, with a chance of snow. Snow!  I am so excited. I busted out a warm scarf that my friend (and Oklaho-mom) Charlotte made for me. Before it froze, I gathered the last couple dozen tomatoes and cut back my little porch garden. We're ready for winter!

Finally, buried at the end of my post: in other news we are spending the holidays in London and Paris.  It's my first trip to Europe; I'm so excited! We booked plane tickets and hotel reservations and have created loose itineraries for our time.  For Christmas eve, we'll be at midnight mass in Notre Dame.


Ok friends, stay warm. It's a polar vortex out there! And now I'm back to grading, practicing French phrases, and huddling happily by my space heater.