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Archive for April, 2013

If April showers bring May flowers, what do April snowstorms bring???

  1. Save money/get out of debt.
    • I will try to do the 52-Week Money Saving Challenge – Had to take the $$ out of that account to pay taxes. 😦
    • Refinance the condo. – Need a job first. Yes.
    • As soon as I get a job (see #3), start smacking money down on our student loan/credit card debts! – I was able to sub about three weeks in April; I get paid for two of those weeks May 3rd, and the CC payments are already set up.  Not a whole lot, but everything will help!
  2. Lose weight. – Starting weight: 141#; Ending weight: 144#.
    • Track my foods. – Maybe a day or two.
    • Exercise (cardio) at least 5 days a week. – I didn’t exercise 5 days the week I was in Tennessee, but the other weeks I did.  I think.  Maybe one week when I was feeling cruddy I didn’t necessarily *go exercise*, but I did get at least 10K steps in on those days, and a couple hit over 15K (even a 20K).
    • Strength train at least 3 days a week. – Rock climbing and yoga — I think one week I fudged a little and only did a few squats one day, but otherwise *much* better.
    • Take the monthly Shrinking Jeans challenges. – I got as far as cutting six challenges up and pasting them together to do as a group.  That doesn’t make sense.  I know what I mean.  Basically I would be doing Day 1 of six challenges all together (like a regular ST routine), then Day 2, etc.  I want to do it this way because I don’t like doing squats 30 days in a row with no breaks in between.  So I’ve decided to do these on the days I don’t do yoga or rock climb.  About 3 days a week.  Once I get through 31 times, then I’ll try a ST routine from one of my magazines or something.  The point is to get a habit going.  Whew!
  3. Get a job.
    • For right now, get on the substitute lists. – Subbed most days I could.
    • Get a summer job. – Applied at about six or seven districts.
    • Get a full-time ESL job for the fall. – Have the license.  Applied at six or seven districts.  Will keep applying through May. Or till I get one.
  4. Get outside more.
    • Run, bike, and rock climb outside (weather permitting). – Walked outside a couple times; ran once (hurt my ankle AGAIN and had to walk back, grr).  Most of the month it was spitting a nasty mix of rain/sleet/snow.  What the radio people called a “slush storm”.  Yeah.  But the couple days it was nice, I did get outside.
    • Work on exploring more of the 60 Hikes in 60 Miles. – Nope.
    • Go camping. – Still waiting for spring…
    • Go to one of the destinations we’ve been wanting to — Ely, Mystery Caves, the Black Hills, Katahdin (if I get to ME this summer) – We didn’t go anywhere.  I went to TN, but nothing cool.  Although it was neat to see some friends, see how the campus had changed, and have a chat with my piano teacher.
  5. Be creative.
    • Blog at least 3x/week. – No, but I did better. Five posts in April, not counting this one, and not counting a couple in the works that will be back-dated.  So that’s a little more than one a week…
    • Finish cross-stitch projects and give to their owners! – No, but I finished the cross-stitching of the one I started Easter weekend and started another one of the same pattern with a color change to give to my grandmother.  I’ll post pics when I’ve gotten them both a little more finished.
    • Finish Jon and Ali’s quilt. – Didn’t touch it.
    • Practice the piano more. – I didn’t practice. At all.
  6. Spend more time with friends and family.
    • Do fun things with Kent. – We went rock climbing every Saturday night, with friends every time I think.  We also went to a concert — Britten’s “War Requiem” — awesome!  That was with a friend too and we had supper beforehand.
    • Get together with friends at least once a month for games or other event. – See above.  I also met up with a friend to walk the mall one day, and we met a couple other friends to chat at a restaurant (they ate; we didn’t).
    • Call my friends who live far away — one per week. – I did talk to one friend.  That’s one more than last month!
    • Write a note to someone every week. – I have the notes to write.  Didn’t write them yet.  A couple other friends lost family members in the last week, so that’s what they’re for.
  7. Spend more quality time with God.
    • Have real devotions every day. – I was more consistent, and was reading from the study books I have for the Bible study I help lead every weekend, but that’s a different focus.  I am really short on time and sleep, though, so maybe that will have to be enough for now.
    • Memorize at least 1 Bible verse every day. – I didn’t get 30, nor did I do it every day, but I memorized the rest of Romans 1 the last week and a half of April — verses 18-32.  Gonna start Romans 2 in May. 🙂
    • Pray every day! – I did pray, but more when I needed something than to just talk with God.  I did thank Him several times just out of the blue for nice things, but it was hard to feel thankful with the weather the way it was. I guess I need to work on that.

April was a really odd month for me.  I started out, of course, in TN spending time in the hospital with my grandfather, who died the day after I left to come home.  So April has been a month of thinking about grief and mortality, shedding tears at odd times for no particular reason (or for a reason — during Britten’s “War Requiem” — it was cathartic), and reconnecting with family members.  I may not have called friends, but I talked to my mom, my aunt, my brothers, and my grandmother more than usual. Even my mother-in-law got a lot more calls.

I was pleased that I had held my weight from the end of February (141#) through about the middle of April, though I was eating a lot of sugar and not necessarily exercising the way I should.  The last week or so I gained three pounds and started feeling really *fat* and flabby (without knowing how much I’d gained).  It was interesting to note that, actually, because I had laughed at a really skinny friend in Bangkok who used to complain that she’d gained a kilo (about 2.2#), because I thought it was such a small amount you wouldn’t notice.  Now I know you can tell even that small amount, when you are close to the weight you should be.  I’m planning on stepping up my strength training (see 2.4 above), so hopefully I should be seeing more progress in the right area soon!

In addition to subbing, I also did a focus group on how I use the library (lol) and picked up a homebound student for tutoring. I’ve seen her twice this week and will be seeing her till school gets out, about five hours a week, to try to get her graduated from eighth grade.  So that’s some extra money.  We’re really short this month but I am trying to get on top of it.  Kent will be out of school the middle of May and I hope he can find something this summer that will pay a decent amount.

In other news, I managed to get the house more or less cleaned up on the days I didn’t sub, and undecorated the Christmas tree today and got all the decorations in their boxes and by the door to go down.  The tree itself is still up but Kent said he’d maybe get to it Thursday or Friday.  But the bathrooms have been cleaned in living memory, and the floor has been vacuumed at least once if not twice, and *most* of the laundry is off the floor.  We sound like slobs, and we actually don’t mean to be, but the schedules we’ve been keeping are rather horrendous.  But if I can keep more or less on top of it, then it is at least manageable in the odd half hour here and there.

So that’s April for you — small improvements, and hope for the next month.  See you then!

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Snuffed-Candle-21

Dirge without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.

So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

.

My mother-in-law sent this to me yesterday, thinking of my family after my grandfather’s death earlier this month.  I couldn’t say it any better, honestly.  I believe that Pop-pop is sleeping in the grave, waiting for the Second Coming when we will all be reunited with loved ones and spend a glorious eternity in heaven with God (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  I believe this with all my heart, and thank God that he is out of pain now.

But we are left to remember the crinkle in the eyes as he showed us a puzzle, or the timbre of his voice singing or reading the Bible, his wisdom and wit as he led his family (even to the great-grandchildren!) in godly lives, the hands that did many honest days’ work, and the approval shown to any of us who achieved even a small victory.  We remember. We know. And — I am not resigned to their loss.

It seems like a contradiction, really.  But God forbid I, as a Christian, should be resigned to death! Death was not in God’s plan, and He has done everything possible to erase it for us.  The promise of Easter (and Pop-pop died not quite a week after Easter) is that death has no hold on us.  Death is conquered.  It is not forever.  So we should not be resigned, not in that way.  We should fight against death, not in the way Dylan Thomas said — “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” but fight death every day in our actions, our speech, even our thoughts.  We should strive for heaven– a closer relationship with God, and work to bring His kingdom sooner.  That is how we fight death. For when “death is swallowed up in victory” then John Donne’s poem will also ring true for our hearts — “One short sleep past, we wake eternally,/And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.”

I am not resigned. Praise be to God.

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After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
Questions.

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

.

Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.”

Reblogged from Olivia Circe.

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april showers

lace is overrated

So we’re up to the third snowstorm in oh, a week and a half.  I’m looking out my window at the dropping dusk and watching the too-familiar white lace build up on my favorite maple tree.

It’s pretty.  It is.  I love winter. But — can I just be a little frustrated?  I would have loved it twice or three times as much in November, when the days were darkening and everything was so brown and dead I lit five or more candles on the kitchen table where I was working and nursed cup after cup of hot tea.  November.  December.  Sure, January or February too, though by that time the winter had gotten itself going and we at least had some snow to look at.  But April?  April 22, no less; Earth Day, when schoolchildren everywhere are supposed to go out and plant a tree or a flower, or even a few seeds!

Yeah.  Instead, we had a lowering day going to rain with snow spitting in, and then just flat-out snow.  It’s supposed to get as much as nine inches of wet, slushy, mess.  Last week the weather forecaster called it a “slop storm” — that was for the second one.  Now we’re on to the third.  Anyone who knows me knows I like snow, but everything has a time and a place.  It’s just plain depressing to look out at the tail-end of April and see fresh snow (maybe that should be the “back-end”?).

So I’m carrying my laundry up the stairs, thinking about how I’ll have to go out in the slush in a few minutes and wondering just what exactly I’m annoyed about anyway.  I mean, a month ago this snow wouldn’t have been such an issue (it also wouldn’t have been as wet, but that’s another thing).  Snow in the end of March, at least at the latitudes where I grew up and now live, is…par for the course. Business as usual.  Even into the beginning of April, sure.  But I have expectations.  I expect that somewhere in April, the mysterious alchemy of Spring will start creeping up AND NOT STOP.  That’s probably part of the problem right there.  Just as I start to see grass, whomp! another snowstorm.  Delayed gratification?  Or dashed hopes?  Something.

But I was thinking too, why do I like snow in the first place?  It’s pretty.  Most of the time, too, the weather is crisp and invigorating.  Snowy days make me want to go play outside, then come in and curl up with a blanket and a book, some hot tea, and maybe a candle or some Christmas lights.  (Got the Christmas lights — still.  Don’t judge.)  I still have books, candles, tea, blankets, and a comfy beanbag.  I didn’t ditch those when March blew out the door.  I don’t particularly want to go play in the squishy mess outside, but I can skip straight to the snuggling anytime.  So why the annoyance with this late spring snow?

Back in March, when I went to the Christian women’s conference, one of the workshops was about how to fight disappointment.  The speaker’s main point was if you don’t make unrealistic expectations (and, incidentally, also forget to tell other people about them), you will have less disappointment in your life.  I don’t actually think it is *that* unrealistic to expect sunny (sunnier?) days and the beginnings of spring in April — we actually did have it last year.  But it is unrealistic, in my admittedly not vast life experience to expect spring in Maine or Minnesota to just sweep over the land without a few hiccups along the way.  So this is more along the lines of a large belch (or snow vomit?), rather than a hiccup.  I should still stop complaining.  At least I’m not looking out from the underside of a bridge or something, right?

But the other reason I thought that I might be longing for spring so much, aside from the months of winter we’ve just had, is that this year, spring to me has a lot more riding on it than balmy weather and a profusion of lilacs.  Those are wonderful on their own, I will be the first to admit, but Kent also reminded me that I am the first to complain about the heat and humidity of summer.  (No, I don’t like most of Minnesota’s weather, actually.  Yes, we aren’t planning on living here much longer that we have to, why do you ask?)  No, the reason(s) I’m really looking forward to spring are more — careerish than sun-tannish.

I finally have my ESL license (got the e-mail the same day I found out my grandfather died — not surprised it didn’t get a lot of media attention…), so this spring/summer is when I’ll hopefully land a full-time job for next year! Four (more) years of cleaning toilets done!  (Then I can complain about grading…)  So my hopes are riding on what spring will bring to me financially, after six years of living very close to disaster — a chance to actually MAKE a budget and then, of course, stick to it, because it will include space to, say, buy new running shoes or go out to eat once in a while.  Not that we didn’t do those things, these last years — we did.  But we’ve also run up a bunch of credit card debt in the process.  It will feel a lot better to me to say, “I can save up for this pair of shoes — that is in the budget”, rather than “I need a new pair of shoes but I have no money; I guess I’ll have to add that to the card.”

So spring to me means sunshine, flowers, a chance to go OUTSIDE without burying my face in my scarf/collar/hair, training for a marathon, hiking, and all the other wonderfulness that spring means to those of us who live in the cold and frozen northlands.  But this year, I guess I just want spring to come so I can feel secure.  Given that reason, I guess it doesn’t really matter that there’s another helping of slush piling up outside.  The job will come when it comes.  Just like spring.

Hey, at least I’m not under a bridge…

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somewhere

the sun is still shining

and birds, no doubt, are singing

cheerfully

the general population is going through their day

following a plan

running errands and

networking

somewhere, too, children giggle

and lovers

whisper sweet nothings

others fight

and someone, somewhere, is perfectly happy

maybe with coffee and a good book

.

that is there

in that other universe

called reality

.

in my world

i watch the machines

cringe at the beeps

strain to hear a whispered word

try to see familiar features

lost in a face of sickness and

pain

in this world

(it is small)

everything revolves around the numbers on the screen

the inputs and outputs

that tell everything and

not enough

.

in my world today

the hiss of oxygen is turned off

and the machines

silenced

and the heart beats slow

the numbers fall

and my world

stops

.

.

Pop-Pop

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Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Crossing the Bar — Alfred, Lord Tennyson

.

This post in memory of Richard Nash, Oct. 19, 1927-Apr. 6, 2013, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great and godly man. Rest in peace, Pop-pop, until Jesus comes again!

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Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow, dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you waiting at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.

“Up-Hill” by Christina Rossetti, from Poems. © Everyman’s Library, 1993. Reprinted with permission.

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One of my favorite poems by a Rossetti.  Promise of strength for the journey, and a reward at the end.  Most poignant right now as I think my grandfather may be coming to the end of his journey…

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