Friday, December 30, 2011

oh...hey...hi there.

my kitchen the other morning.
Man time sure does's been almost a week since I've written. Time is whizzing by...and I have to say I don't like it. I really don't.

* * * * * * * * *

I went to the thrift store today to make a donation. And as I always do after unloading the back of the car I drove around the front of the store, parked the car, and went inside to see what treasures I couldn't live without. I found a large Ball jar with a cream lid and a cookbook from 1965 called Wild in the Kitchen. Three bucks later and I had myself a few new treasures.

While I was there I popped my head into the back room to say hi to my favorite employee there...Miss Francine. She gardens and cans, too. (And reads my blog! Hi Francine!) As a matter of fact, when I was in the market for a canner she set aside a good one for me at the thrift store. That was so nice of her. Thanks, Francine!

* * * * * * * * *

So...2012 is just around the that crazy or what? I don't feel ready for it...not like I was for 2011. I was ready for 2011. But 2012 is sneaking up on me...catching me off guard...throwing me for a loop. But since there's nothing I can do about it...may as well gear up, right?

Last year, like so many others, I chose a word (words, actually)for the year. The words I chose were: Do Brave. And even though I sat on my butt was stagnant for a good portion of 2011, I'll give myself some credit and say I was also Brave in that when I set my mind to it I got it together, got a job and signed up for school and really committed to finishing up my education. I'd say that took a little bit of bravery.

So now 2012 is just about here. And I'm wanting to choose another word. A few have popped into my head...but I'm still thinking on it. What about you? Have you chosen a word for 2012? Care to share?

* * * * * * * * *

Oh! And how about a birthday shout out to my uncle Dave and his lovely sister, my kindred spirit, Linda. Brother and sister born on the same day a year cool is that?
Happy Birthday you guys! I hope it was wonderful. xo

And the famous words of Napoleon Dynamite's brother, Kip...peath out.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas...

Merry Christmas everyone!

I can't believe it is Christmas seems that the month of December is always a blur. As soon as Thanksgiving is over we rush, rush, rush to get everything done and bought and decorated and..and...and then suddenly Christmas is here!

The good news is...I'm ready. Shopping is done...presents are is prepared. And in a few hours we will begin the festivities and head off to Chris' dad's (Marty) house for the afternoon.

Oh...speaking of food...Marty's wife, Kelly, is preparing a Prime Rib for dinner tonight. My contribution for tonight's meal is Country Potatoes. SO delicious...and completely fattening. Perfect for the holidays, no? Oh me, you will want to make these potatoes. Country Potatoes are a holiday staple it aunt got the recipe from a friend several years back and we've been eating them at holiday dinners ever since. They are delicious. In case you want to make a dish of your's the recipe!

Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas!

Country Potatoes

6-7 medium red potatoes - peeled, boiled and grated
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. minced onion
salt, pepper and paprika to taste
1-can cream of chicken soup
1-pint sour cream
1 1/2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese

Heat butter in saucepan and add onion, saute until soft.  Add soup and sour cream, warm through. In a large mixing bowl grate potatoes. Add spices and cheese to onion mixture then pour over potatoes and fold together. Bake at 350' for 45 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday in the Word

go take a look...
“As long as the earth endures,
seed time and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

Genesis 8:22

It's Wednesday...and it's winter...well, actually tomorrow is the first official day of winter. But according to my frozen windshield and icy temps, I'm alright with claiming it a day early.

So...the other day I talked a little bit about anxiety. I didn't get a lot of feedback...I'm wondering if it makes others uncomfortable talking about it. Or...maybe nobody can relate. Or...maybe nobody visits me here anymore. I don't know...but what I DO know, is that as soon as I did what I was supposed to do...the anxiety subsided.

What was I supposed to do, you ask? I was supposed to take this new job offer and let go of the old job that was temporary to begin was never mine from the start. I was clinging to something that I was supposed to be letting go of...and it took me a few days to "get it".

If I really look at this whole job situation I can see that God has got it totally under control. He is placing opportunities in front of me and if I would just trust Him and follow His lead, this whole journey I'm on would be a lot more smooth.

For instance, I was blessed to be given a long-term sub position. It lasted 3 months. And in the life of the school district sub, this isn't all that common. Then...just as this sub job is ending, I am given an opportunity for another long-term position as a teacher's aide at the high school across town. I start on January 9th when we return from vacation and the job will last through mid March. On top of being given another long-term opportunity, this particular job makes me eligible to apply for other jobs within the district. Other permanent jobs. Other jobs that could possibly provide benefits. Oh...and did I mention that it's for 2 hours each afternoon and that the hours are perfect for my class schedule? Yeah...I know.

Isn't it so funny how we go about spinning in circles...fretting and worrying...clinging to things that aren't really ours...all the while making ourselves sick? When if we would just listen to that He is placing each stepping stone in the exact place that we need it...our walk through life truly would be a smooth one. Not easy. But smooth.

Of course...there is always work to be done on our part. Like...working up the courage to place our foot on that next stone. Especially when that next stone is set out a little further than the others. But that's where trust comes in...and faith. Believing that God always does know best. And that His plan will always work.

Monday, December 19, 2011

well now...

I'm sort of spinning in circles lately. My plate is overflowing and all of my calm and cool and control is out the window. I'm feeling extremely anxious lately...the week of finals for school might have finally got me. Not so much the finals themselves...but more that everything else going on along with the finals really just sort of sent me spinning.

I don't know...anxiety is a strange bird, isn't it? It blind-sided me this time around. To be honest, I haven't been dealing with anxiety much lately. And I am very grateful. But the last few days have me feeling anxious...the sub job is coming to a close and I am sad about it, I got another temporary position at a different school that starts when we get back from vacation, I have lots of presents to wrap, food to shop for and prepare, a laundry pile that just multiplies, a dirty bathroom, boys who won't keep their rooms clean, a few appointments thrown in between now and Friday...and it is all piled up in my brain in one big jumble.

And for whatever reason, I am not doing so good at the whole one day at a time, one thing at a time thing. I've been getting pretty good at reminding myself of this when anxiety flares...and have been able to get myself refocused pretty quickly. But I think since there is some sadness involved...and things that I have really loved are's added to the mix and made things a bit worse this time around. I loved the job...and it's ending. I loved creative writing...and it ended. And now I have to start all these new things at once...a new job, three new classes, plus kids going to dances and wrestling tournaments and getting drivers licenses.

Then of course I want to make stuff for the holidays (so I've got even more thoughts and ideas swirling around this crazy brain of mine) gifts, handmade things, crafty goodness...but haven't seemed to find the time to DO any of it. I say find the time because really, if something is important enough to us, we will find the time. I've stopped saying I don't have time...because I do. I just don't always spend it wisely. Ahem.

Either way, the bottom line is...IT'S ALL OK. Anxiety is something I've learned to live and God, we got this. So no need to worry... I'm good. Anxiety is temporary. And not realistic. The reality is...I have two weeks off for the holidays. Time to rest be OK with the goodbye's and look forward to the new beginnings. To let go with one hand and grab a hold with the other...moving along...moving forward...moving in the right direction.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

more Mary Oliver...another favorite.

I Found a Dead Fox

I found a dead fox
beside the gravel road,
curled inside the big
iron wheel

of an old tractor
that has been standing,
for years,
in the vines at the edge

of the road.
I don't know
what happened to it --
when it came there

or why it lay down
for good, settling
its narrow chin
on the rusted rim

of the iron wheel
to look out
over the fields,
and that way died --

but I know
this: its posture --
of looking,
to the last possible moment,

back into the world --
made me want
to sing something
joyous and tender

about foxes.
But what happened is this --
when I began,
when I crawled in

through the honeysuckle
and lay down,
curling my long spine
inside that cold wheel,

and touched the dead fox,
and looked out
into the wide fields,
the fox

There was only myself
and the world,
and it was I

who was leaving.
And what could I sing
Oh, beautiful world!

I just lay there
and looked at it.
And then it grew dark.
That day was done with.

And then the stars stepped forth
and held up their appointed fires --
those hot, hard
watchmen of the night.

-Mary Oliver

                                                                         ...the 4th and 5th stanzas make me cry.

Monday, December 12, 2011

the coming week...

There is a very good chance that this next week, just maybe, quite possibly, and pretty much more than likely, could push me right over the edge.

I have my creative writing presentation tomorrow night...and my portfolio is due as well. Tomorrow is our last class meeting...and I am sad about it. It's been one of the BEST classes ever.

Then, once I get all of that done and over with, I will be focusing on my Education class that ends on Saturday. I have a HUGE portfolio due that I haven't even started yet. Yes, I know. Lame. But it's true. I have whined and moaned and groaned and pouted...and now, here we are. All of that time whining definitely could have been better spent. You know...doing something like WORKING. is what it is...all I can do now is buckle down and get it done. And I will.

In the midst of all of that...the holidays just keep on comin'. We got our tree's in its stand, perched lovingly in the front window...with nary a piece of decor to be seen. But that's's a patient tree. I made sure when we bought it.

I have made a dent in the Christmas shopping, though...thank goodness. I have to lay everything out on my bed for the big "inventory"...see what I have for who, what I still need to get, you know...make yet another list to add to my pile of lists. I can never seem to make just one list...or even consolidate. So I just carry around a stack of lists and call it a "system". I've learned to just go with it...

I'm pretty excited about this coming semester (assuming I get through this semester in one piece).

Because I have no idea what's going on as far as my work life is concerned, I had to go on ahead and just make a decision about what IS happening and that is my education. More than likely the job I've been doing is going to come to an end. As it stands, the woman I am subbing for will be returning to her job after the first of the year. It's been sort of up in the air...back and forth...and maybe a possibility here and possibly an opportunity there...but nothing set in stone. And nothing permanent.

So...with that in mind I signed up for some fun classes...both of which are being held during the day at the local community college on Monday's and Wednesday's. One of them is taking part in the college literary magazine, Suisun Valley Review. My creative writing instructor leads the class and it sounds like a lot of fun. Then I also signed up for Printmaking.Yes! Printmaking! I am super excited for this class. And yes, I do really need these classes. I realize at this point the coming semester sounds like it's all fun and games. But my counselor said I was in need of a few more cool is that? I love electives!

On the university front...I'll be taking a class on how to teach my future students English. Or Math. I can't remember. And whatever one I'm not taking this coming term, I will take in the next term. So no matter what, in the next 16 weeks, I will have taken both. Clear as mud? Good. Hopefully I'll teach better than I blog.

Alrighty then...with all of this in mind, don't be surprised if you don't see me much this week. I'll be around...and checking in on all of you...but may not be writing much here. More than likely all of my writing efforts will be going into school stuff. I know you'll understand...

Keep me in your prayers, won't you...? That I stay focused...and get everything done that I need to...and that I don't go bald in the process. Thank you...xo

Friday, December 9, 2011

I love books.

This is the most recent photo of my nightstand. This is the stack of books I do not have time to read because I'm reading another stack of books that is piled high on the floor beneath my nightstand.

The other pile, not pictured obviously, is mostly of Mary Oliver (have I mentioned how much I am loving her? Oh. I have? Silly me.) with a bit of Erica Jong thrown in for variety. While at the library stalking Mary Oliver books gathering up every Oliver book I could find I came across a book of poetry by Erica Jong. I thought the cover was lovely so I pulled it out...flipped to a page, found what I read intriguing, added it to the borrow pile.

Apparently, Ms. Jong was quite the racy writer in the 70's according to my mom. She never read any of Jong's smut writing, of course. She just heard about it. Ahem. (Hi Mom!) I didn't find the bit of her poetry I did read to be racy or inappropriate...but I haven't read it all. So...I'll throw out a disclaimer, an advisory, that should you opt to read Jong, it's at your own risk. :)

I made this silly little lady about 10 years ago...and she really has nothing to do with poetry other than she's dangling on my wall above my nightstand so I figured she was worth a mention.

I'm pretty sure the idea came from Home Companion...remember the Mary Engelbreit magazine? Of all the magazines I was obsessed with...I miss this one the most. Well...and Country Living. But CL is still in print so I can at least go to the library and look at it if I need to. I heard rumors that HC is coming back...anyone else heard that?

I used to spend a lot of money on magazines...I had stacks and stacks. And I would save them...because you never know when you may need to reference something fabulous in one of them. You know...a project, a recipe, whatever. So the magazines piled up...but of course I never knew where each very fabulous idea was within that stack. But they were in there somewhere!

Eventually, I stopped buying magazines. Partly because our finances changed drastically and partly because I realized I could borrow the mags from the library then photo copy anything fabulous I needed to remember. So now all of those copies of great ideas are stacked...patiently awaiting a moment of organized inspiration to be placed neatly and lovingly in a plastic-sleeved binder.

Don't hold your breath.

Because the reality is the floor needs mopping, the baseboards need dusting, the class projects need doing, the Christmas shopping needs finishing, meals need preparing, laundry needs washing....and a partridge in a pear treeeeeee!

This is why the books on the nightstand aren't being read.

But the nice thing about books is that they wait patiently, looking lovely, and are ready whenever you are.
I love books...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wednesday in the Word

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down,
shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.
For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Matthew 6:38

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


...we had a little leak by the front water spigot recently. Chris and Ian set out to fix it on Saturday, only to find that it was really a pretty BIG leak. They had to dig up my wood violets and baby tears...and I was sad. But the almost double water bill made me ever MORE I kept quiet about the plants, pretty much.

Then I left them covered in mud and went to a baby shower...had a very nice time (and got a delicious salad dressing recipe that I'll share soon)...did a bit of Christmas shopping and headed home. When I arrived there was a large trench dug out of the front lawn from the spigot by the house to the water meter by the sidewalk. Turns out the entire pipe, that was now really not pipe at all but more of long glob of rust, needed to be replaced.

They worked into the night pretty much making sure nothing was leaky....I went outside to talk with them about it, too. Because I know a lot about plumbing and all...ahem. While I was outside I looked up at the was clear, and such a pretty shade of blue.

Then I noticed that after all those crazy winds there wasn't a leaf left on the maple tree...only those little spiky balls that drop all over the lawn. It struck me as I ran in and grabbed my camera.

* * * * *

I've been plugging away at my classwork...writing poetry, writing about Mary Oliver, and procrastinating probably the largest assignment due (in a week) for my computer class. The instructor recommended we start it the first week...ya know, get it going and set up so we wouldn't be bombarded with the entire project in the last week of class?


Does it count that I thought about it every week? If only work got done by osmosis...I'd be a professor by now.

Guess I better get back to to you lovelies...xo

Sunday, December 4, 2011

good sunday morning.


It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones, just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

~Mary Oliver

Friday, December 2, 2011

{this is on Pinterest...but originally came from flickr...but is
from a private account that I cannot link to. But if you are the
one who made this amazing print (or know who did)...please let me know,
as I'd love to purchase a copy of my own to frame and love forever.}
I'm sorry...but I still can't get over how much I am loving poetry. I love to read it...I love to write it...I love to critique it and sit in a writing group having others critique my's a whole new way to express myself. And this doesn't surprise anyone as much as it surprises ME.

Currently, Mary Oliver is a favorite...I'm reading a lot of her work for my final portfolio essay for creative writing. So many amazing poems...such beautiful words...incredible imagery...I'm sold.

And don't you just love a good lino cut? This print above...a combination of three of my favorite things, poetry, Mary Oliver and block almost more than I can stand. I'd love to have this in a print to frame and hang in my home.

So it's Friday...gotta get ready for work. I tidied up the place this morning and now I'm running a bit behind. I'm going Christmas shopping tonight with my mom...looking forward to that. And then the weekend...which will include a baby shower, taking Seth to an open parking lot to practice a stick shift and lots of school work. Doesn't sound so bad, does it?

What are you doing this weekend? I hope it involves something fun and refreshing...xoxo

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dec. 1...time is flying by...

people take amazing photos.
Just like's December 1. The first day of the last month of the year 2011. Time is strange, isn't it? It just keeps going and going and going...and seemingly faster and faster. This morning 13 minutes felt like two. I couldn't believe that 13 minutes had passed and I didn't even really know it...or feel it. The time was just...gone.

December's nothing significant in my little birthdays, no anniversaries, just another day, really. But it does mean that it's only 3 weeks (give or take) until Christmas. And can I just tell you that I have bought maybe 1.5 gifts? Yeah. Not even close to being even slightly ready. But...that is usually my M.O. this time of year...I'm usually in denial about Christmas. Right up until the eve, really. I know...

December also means that I have approximately two weeks left in each of my classes. (Why did I not realize they were going to end at the same time? I feel like this should have occurred to me. Or maybe it did? And I forgot? Where is that ginkgo biloba?)

Regardless of what I think or don't think...remember or not...yes, each of my classes will be finis in two weeks. And this is a good thing...the time flying while I'm in school is totally OK with me. Because that just means I am that much closer to being done with school that much quicker. However, it really makes getting all the work done that much more of a challenge! Seriously.

But that's OK...I am grateful for the opportunity to even be IN school. It is a blessing...something not everyone is afforded the privilege of doing. I have got so much support in this endeavor...Chris and the boys are so sweet and understanding and family is so supportive and encouraging...friends are rooting me on left and right and sending me notes of goodness and's amazing. And keeps me moving forward every day. All of this encouragement is also accountability. How in the world can I NOT follow through with this when I've shouted from the rooftops that I am gonna DO this? At this point...I have to finish!

And's not just about "going to college". It's about really doing something that I've been working at, off and on, for many years and finally, finally seeing an end in sight. I can see the prize...and it's really not that far off.

Going back to school is about doing something that would have been really easy NOT to do...because I'm too busy, or too old, or too...whatever.

Bottom line? I am really happy that I am doing this...and every day I feel that much more accomplished. And it feels really good.

So I'm already signed up for my next classes...I'll be taking Human Development at the community college online and ENGU450 at Brandman, also online. I have no idea what ENGU450 even is...probably a class on how to teach English...the subject, not the language. I'm really glad I decided to study Liberal Studies rather than Sociology...or Criminal Justice. What? Criminal Justice? Who are you, Michelle?

Well...Sociology and Criminal Justice would have been really, really interesting subjects to study. I'm big on people...and getting into their heads...learning why they do things...and how they think. Especially people that are a, shall we say? It may explain why I feel the need to go into Special Education. I dunno.

However, when all was said and done, it made more sense for me to focus on teaching, and learning how to teach and so Liberal Studies it was. And it was a good decision.

I am also feeling bittersweet because as it turns out I am loving my creative writing class. LOV-ING it. And I can't believe it will be over in two weeks. Especially because it feels like we are all just getting to know each other....and each other's writing styles. We are loosening up in class...having fun...really writing and critiquing and encouraging each other. It's a really great class...and I am going to miss it like crazy.

But anyway...I didn't mean for this to be a dissertation on my college career. Really. I was gonna talk about the million mile an hour winds we are experiencing...and how my chickens are laying one egg a day. I was going to talk about how much Ian loves wrestling and how next week, at this very time, Seth will be driving, with a license,  by himself. I know. I know!

 I was going to talk about how our room is still neat and tidy...and how I am loving my little kitchen. And how our winter garden, while slow-growing, is doing well and is happy and healthy. Or how my mom and I are going to go Christmas shopping tomorrow night and how I plan to get a LOT DONE.

But...maybe we can talk about all of that next time...ok?