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What Summer is About

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On Sunday, I saw one of my students at the grocery store. We said hello to each other and I asked if she was having a good summer. She said she was, but lamented that it was going too fast and that it seemed to be nearly over already. I assured her that we had five weeks left – I had counted – and she has plenty of time to relax.

Of course, I have to remind myself of that as well. I don’t feel as stressed out as I did last summer, when I was trying to develop an entire new teacher induction program from scratch, but I’ve still been plenty busy, and certainly not ready to go back to the classroom yet.

Husband and I vacationed in Prince Edward Island at the end of May and beginning of June. It was a lot of driving – two days of driving there and two days back, plus quite a bit of time in the car as we explored the island. Husband drove every last mile of it, which made us both happy. He loves to drive; I prefer to gaze out the windows until the hum of the motor and the movement of the car lullaby me to sleep. (And then I wake up with a sore back and a stiff neck.) We listened to seven audiobooks on the trip. While we were there, we went sailing (sort of – the wind died so we were really just out on an engine-powered boat that has the ability to sail). We kayaked out into the ocean (with a guide) till we found a sand bar where we dug for clams, and then kayaked back and assisted our guide in making (and eating!) clam chowder. We visited Green Gables (walking through the Haunted Wood and Lover’s Lane), toured an alpaca farm, walked along several beaches, and ate a lot of seafood. Lobster, clams, haddock, crab, mussels, and oysters.


PEI is beautiful. Every single part of it is picturesque, and most of it is rural. I think Husband would like to live there. He’d have to live there without me, though, because one lady told us that last year, there was still snow on the ground at the beginning of June. No, thank you. Indiana might get miserably hot and humid, but at least our winter doesn’t last eight months. Of course, that’s one thing Husband would like about it.

Coming home made me happy. Everything is green here in the summer, and when the thunderstorms aren’t rolling through, the sun shines mightily.


In June, Husband did some sand sculpting, and I picked raspberries and visited with friends I haven’t seen in ages. He worked on installing I-beams in the big carport we’d had put up in the spring, as part of setting up his wood shop to work on the timber frame house he is building.


I went to a workshop on Project-Based Learning and started the second course in my Master’s program in Curriculum and Educational Technology. As July began, he drew designs for ice sculptures and house plans while he watched movies, and I listened to teacher podcasts while I washed the dishes or made dinner. We put up 13 bales of hay from our field, and then it rained three and a half inches in about two hours, and the hay – which we’d put in the barn but not in the hay loft – got wet because the barn floods. (Lesson learned.) He’s been playing soccer. I’ve been running and biking… and going to yoga, which seems a very middle-aged-woman-thing to do, but hey, I’m a middle-aged woman and I’m trying to embrace that. Besides, yoga helps keeps me flexible since I never remember to stretch after I run.

My book has languished. I’ve been waiting for feedback from a few of my students who promised to read my manuscript and let me know what they thought. And just like adults, when kids don’t have deadlines, sometimes they take a long time to get things done. It’s not such a bad thing, though. Most of my creative energies have gone into developing PBL unit plans, drafting emails to our new teachers and organizing their orientation, responding to online discussions for my class, and coming up with ways to redesign my classroom, both physically and culturally. Sometimes I play the ukulele. Sometimes I knit… and on days like today, I rip out twenty rows of knitting because I made a huge mistake waaaaay back there.

Summer, I’ve decided, isn’t about being lazy. It’s about giving my mind a rest by doing other things, by stretching it in new ways.


Attacked! (?)

It isn’t uncommon for  me to see wildlife when I’m out on a run.  Ducks, hawks, killdeer, and of course squirrels and deer often cross my path or come near to my route.  So yesterday as I ran, I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear a rustling in the leaves behind me.  Deer, I surmised.  But how would I have startled the deer when I was already past them?  I turned to look. Three animals stared me in the face, and rather than fleeing from me, they hurtled toward me!


I froze.  What does it mean when goats run toward you?  Was I being attacked?

I could just see the headline: “Runner Attacked by Goats Remains in Critical Condition.”

But when they reached me, they stopped.  Where had they come from?  A property three houses south of us has goats, but I was four or five houses north of our home.  It would be strange for them to come so far.  Unsure of what to do, I turned to go, but they followed me.  What now?  Were they friendly?

I scratched one on the head, then another.  Finally, I decided to walk to the closest house to ask where the goats belonged.  But as soon as I turned toward the home, my new little friends galloped back up the lane and behind the house.

Perhaps the goats were hoping for treats.  Maybe they were bringing me their Christmas greetings.  Perchance they just needed a little love.  Whatever the reason, I was surprised and delighted to meet three new four-legged friends.

The First Day

It’s the first day of gun season, and Husband’s alarm sounds at an early hour.  He is up and out the door quickly to drive to the next county to hunt on his dad’s property.

I sigh and roll out of bed, too.

In the distance, I hear a gun shot.

My running partner is out of town, and I’m not sure I want to brave the first cold weather of the season without her.  At the same time, I don’t want to be a wimp.

I pull on my running tights, my sweatshirt, my shoes, my gloves, and my ear warmers, and I hit the road.  The sunrise is at my right shoulder, and diamonds sparkle in the frosty grass.

I inhale the cold air and watch the breath clouds form in front of my face.  Up the road, past the fancy newer houses, toward the older farm homes.  I glance over toward the sun, and there he is.

A buck, just lying in someone’s yard.

Not dead, but very much alive.

Not hiding from a marksman’s eye.

Not poised, ready to spring away at the slightest sound.

Just lying on the ground, legs tucked under him, enjoying the scenery.

I slow down, and we watch each other as I jog past.  Then I stop, cross the road for a closer look, and still he lies there, his two small antlers pointing toward each other.

Is he injured? I wonder.  Why does my presence not spook him?  I see no signs of distress, no wounds.  He is bright-eyed and alert.

A sneaky little sucker, I decide.  If he’s in someone’s yard, he’s far less likely to be shot.  If he’s out of the woods, then… well, he may think he’s out of the woods.

It’s the only time I’ve witnessed the convergence of the literal and figurative meanings of an idiom.

Finally, he stands, but makes no move toward the trees.

Deer also seem to have marked hunting season on their calendars.

I leave the wily buck and continue my run.  Over the next few miles, I hear more gunshots.

Husband isn’t the only one scoping out dinner.

May it be a worthy contest between the hunter and the deer.

A Cold One

It’s five degrees outside, and my running partner is in Florida.  I stand at the door, looking at the thermometer, pondering.  The dogs need to go out, so I open the door and step outside.  It’s surprisingly lovely.  The sunshine is inviting and the birds twitter to me, saying it’s not really so cold.  I know they’re lying, but I resolve to do it anyway.

My running buddy texts me, saying, “Ran in shorts and a t-shirt but my thumbs were cold.”  I scowl and growl as I put on two pairs of pants, a running skirt, two pairs of socks, three shirts, a fleece, and plenty of gear to cover my hands and face.  Out the door I go.

The air is crisp and clear, and despite the cold, I inhale deeply.  The action of my muscles warms me.  The sun beams out of a cloudless blue, and as I reach the intersection that marks the halfway point, birds chirp from their hiding places, encouraging me onward.

No one else is outside on this cold morning.  Even the cars seem to hide in their garages.  If I had stayed in, though, I’d have missed seeing the family of ducks gliding through the frigid river, and hearing the downy woodpecker tattooing an irregular rhythm in the topmost branches of a hackberry tree.

The wind kicks up as if to tell me to quit dawdling, hurry home.  I oblige, picking up the pace for the last quarter mile and pulling my hat more securely over my ears.  Back home now, it’s tempting to stay out, so I relax for a few minutes in the lawn swing, wondering what the neighbors would say if they saw.  But nature calls in another way, so I breathe in the fresh air once more, and head back into the house.

These days

These days, I hate running.  Or at least, I hate the idea of running.  The feet pounding on the pavement, the slow pace at which the scenery changes.  I used to love this.  And if I go out and just do it, it’s okay.  But it does not beckon my like it used to.

A shiny new birthday bike sits on the back porch, promising speed and wind in my hair.  Riding it provides things running cannot:  legs pumping, but providing a smooth experience; the click of gears shifting into place, my legs work a little harder, a little easier.  No longer am I bound to a mere three miles of scenery.  Now, my limits are doubled, tripled.  I can rid out of my neighborhood.  I can view distant vistas!

These days, the running shoes sit forlornly in the closet, but the bicycle gets a lot of use.

Snippets, Volume 4

When I lived in town, I would go running and sometimes find nickles or dimes or pennies on the sidewalk and I would pick them up and take them home.

Now I live out in the country.  I went running this morning and found a big bag of butternut squash on the side of the road.  So I picked it up and brought it home.

Things to do…

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SONY DSCToday’s to-do list was long.  I was feeling overwhelmed.

I made a commitment this week to try to do better at being a 40-hour per week teacher.  Many teachers — and I’m included — work more than this.  I’m usually at school at least 35 hours per week, but I take a lot of work home and am often grading or planning in the evenings and on the weekends.  That makes it feel like my job is my life.  And while I love teaching, I need to have time away from my profession as well, in order to do fun things and to refresh myself.  Living your job is a recipe for burn-out, I think.

So, I just made that commitment on Thursday, and Friday I did a pretty good job of using my time wisely at school.  With free moments, I graded tests.  After school, I graded written responses to literature my students had read.  (I got three of four classes done.)  However, I didn’t have my lesson plans turned in to the administration (and I’m late in doing that, since I started teaching this unit before spring break) and I didn’t have detailed ideas on what I’m doing next week.

Add onto this the fact that I haven’t properly cleaned my house in ages (largely because I’ve been doing school work at home), and all that made for a to-do list that felt a mile long.

But I got up this morning, took time to pray, and then got started.  I had intended to go for a run first thing, but I didn’t (I can’t even recall what delayed me).  But I did get some of the house cleaning done and had the laundry started.  It worked out for the best, though, because my running buddy wasn’t available until later, and we ended up going together.  And by late morning, I needed a break from the housework.  When I returned from the run, I felt more energized and ready to do what was left to be done.

If you look carefully at the list above, you can see that most of the things on the list are crossed off.  I got most of it done today.

And then, the dogs gave me some inspiration:

SONY DSCSONY DSCTheir naps gave me a great idea.  It’s Saturday, it’s cloudy and chilly outside, and I just got a truckload of stuff done.  Time for me to take a nap as well.  So I curled up on the couch, cuddled under a blanket, and slid into oblivion for a little while.  Dogs are smart sometimes.

After I awoke, I folded laundry and put it away, enabling me to cross one more item off the list.

Still, I’m pondering the best ways to be a 40-hour per week teacher.  A blog post had inspired me, but most of the writer’s suggestions were specific to teaching elementary school.  I’m hoping to make up my own list of ideas and write about it here in a few days.

And if I keep work at work, that means I’ll actually have time to write when I’m at home.  I hope.