Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Same, But Different

Rather than ignore the blog until next week sometime and then get too busy to write I decided to take a few minutes and write a short post from my tablet here at the shore.  I know,  very considerate of me.  It really is not that easy to type on this thing!
How can it be that we come to the same place during the same months and yet it is always so different?  For the first time,our closest neighbors are not here in May, making this week a bit quieter than usual.   The black flies however are here, which is perfectly normal.  What would May be like without a few welts on my neck?
Another thing that has come to define May at the shore is painting.  Mission accomplished.  This year I may only be painting one room!   We have come a long way,  baby.   Don't get me wrong,  there are still tons of undone projects to keep me busy.   I still have plenty of trim and molding to paint.   It will never end!

The garden is planted and unusually we are waiting for it to rain.  We never have to wait for rain in May...until now. Did I mention how dry and warm it has been?  I am not complaining as long as our seeds don't blow away.   Nice to have worries as simple as rain and seeds taking root.

Another thing the same but different are the ever evolving trash rules.  I have never seen a place with a more complicated pickup schedule not to mention the actual garbage, compost, and recycling rules.  If you happen to miss your pickup, because the schedule is as clear as mud, then you have to wait two weeks to catch the next pickup.  There is also a high probability that my garbage or recycling will be rejected.  Seriously?  Who knew clear plastic wrap was not trash?  We must use all clear bags now, so they can inspect your refuse and deem it worthy of pickup or not.  I sure hope I pass this week....if I put it out on the right day!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Home Office!!???

It is official.  We have a home office... in our home!  One of us is working from home now and it ain't me.  I don't work....well, I work, but no one pays me.  I have always said the day TJ retires will be the day I get a full time job because we could never be home all day together.  Well, he did not retire, he just took a new job and his office is now in our study.  He really loves the commute from the kitchen to the study!  Time for me to get that job... or go see the world!  My once solitary daily existence has been taken over by the home office, complete with many phone calls on multiple phones, multiple computers and piles of papers on the once barren desktop....yeah, I know...a guy's gotta work.

Ever since my youngest child started school, about 20 years ago, the hours between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. have been mine.  The house has been my office for the last 20+ years.   There was no one watching over my shoulder to check my productivity. I did whatever needed to be done every day...on my schedule and then whatever I wanted with the rest of the day.   Remember, most of those years were spent doing laundry, cleaning, cooking and shopping for a family of 6.  There were also about 10 or 12 years I worked, part time, so it wasn't all soaps and bon bons.  Don't get me wrong, my days are still plenty full, otherwise I would blog every day....about nothing.  I am just saying I think I am in for a period of adjustment. 

TJ has also traveled most of his career, so in addition to being away at an office every day he was out of town 2 or 3 days a week.  The new job has some travel so it will be feast or famine, when he is home, he is HERE and when he is gone, he is not HERE.  I am sure by the time summer is over we will both have adjusted to the new work environment but I'm thinking it won't be without a few speed bumps ahead... mostly for me.  One bit of good news is that the home office will be in Nova Scotia this summer, neither of us will have to adjust too much to that one!   Maybe I will just look at it as training for when he does retire. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Maybe It Was Nashville

Maybe it's the time of year, maybe it is the weather, maybe it was Nashville.  I find myself more and more longing to get out of Houston and go to a more rural, beautiful, peaceful place....! 

Here is one!  Good idea!

We were in Nashville last weekend and in addition to the fun times with family as well as  birthday and  First Communion celebrations, I was taken by how nice Nashville is.  I guess after the last nine months in Houston, the concrete jungle is getting to me.   In the neighborhood we visited the lot size is a minimum of one acre and there are no fences.  There are however lots of huge trees and hills.   Let me repeat....huge trees and hills!  Everything felt so spread out.  We live on a flat postage stamp size lot and there are fences around each house.  The freeway in Nashville has trees along the sides for the most part until you get downtown.  Houston....and the surrounding 30 mile radius, has a patchwork of car lots, strip malls, fast food restaurants, gas stations and billboards along the side of the freeway.  One would be hard pressed to find a tree larger than a shrub near the freeway...and the only hill you will find is called an overpass.  Every sense is bombarded.

I happened to browse through some old photos last night and came across some from a few years ago taken one May at the farmhouse.  The new spring grass was brilliant green, the tulips were blooming, the sunsets were lovely over the water and it took my breath away.  I miss it!  I could almost smell the air! Most of the time we live our life here and we enjoy our life here.  There is a lot to say for having anything and everything you need or want so close.  We like the city most of the time.  I think after a while though we just need to get out  and have a change of pace and a change of scenery.  Time to recharge our senses and our spirit.  We need to slow down a bit and take in nature and refocus.  Life in the city....or the suburbs, has a different focus... a more material and competitive focus.  Drive faster, be busier, accomplish more, buy more, keep up!  I think I might be getting tired.  I am ready to worry about what bugs are eating the artichoke plants and if it is time to mow the grass yet and to look out and see wide open spaces instead of houses, fences, buildings and freeways.

Luckily I will have that opportunity one week from today!  We will be at the shore for a little over a week and then head back to the concrete jungle.  I should be able to tolerate the jungle for a few more weeks then until it is time to move north for the summer!  Bring it on!  Maybe it is just the time of year.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

And She Made Me Cry

Today was the last day of ESL class until September.   I have mixed emotions about the end.  I am happy because the end means I am that much closer to summer at the shore but I am sad because it is the end and it was so good while it lasted.  We began in September and it has been a long journey for some of the students.  We had an awards ceremony and pot luck party today to close out the year.  The students love this day!  So do the teachers for that matter!

Most Improved Student, Me, Outstanding Student, Student with the Best Attitude , Attendance Award winner and my most excellent assistant
Back in September I entered a class of about 20 people who did not speak English.  Through the year many of the students drop out for various reasons, maybe they got a job, or maybe they have no transportation or don't feel like it is worth their time, whatever the reason we have significantly fewer students by the end.  Today I gave awards to five people who can now speak enough English to communicate and are all moving up to Level 2!  I was a very proud instructor.  This final group of students has been the core group through the entire year and we all feel very close now.  We have spent every Monday and Wednesday morning together studying, speaking, laughing, writing and playing a few games and we have gotten surprisingly close. 

As I called each one up to receive his or her award I found myself getting choked up.  There were family members in the audience who came to see their mother, sister or father be recognized for his or her commitment to learn English.  I gave my first award out and it was all smiles and clapping and then I was about to give the second award for the Most Improved Student and found myself getting very emotional.  I said a few nice words about her before I called her name.  She proudly came up to receive her award and then shocked me by making a English, in front of the entire room.  This, from the woman I could not get to speak louder than a whisper for over  a month when she first came to our class.  The woman who seemed so shy and serious.  I noticed lately that she has made progress and her skills have taken off, she even speaks loud enough for me to hear her now!  But to make a heartfelt speech in front of a room full of people.....she made me cry!  She said thank you to my assistant and me and that she prayed for God to bless us and our families and that she was very thankful for our time and energy in the class and our.....(long pause, what is that word?, I know it.. but what is it?, she is thinking and taking her is coming......) our dedication!  She was amazing!  I could not have been more proud if it had been my own child winning the Olympics.  It made my day, my every Monday and Wednesday morning for the last 8 months! 

She had me at "thank you".  Sniff, sniff.
 There were other special moments.  I have one special needs student.  He was awarded the Best Attitude.  He kept us laughing and was always smiling.  He is 30 years old and when he joined us I thought he was 17.  I will add that he has a lot of personality!  We had 3 women in our class named Maria.  Every morning he would say, "Where is Maria, Maria, Maria?"  Cracked me up!  He liked to give high fives too.  What I did not know is that he is quite a lady's man!  Marathon Girl came to the awards ceremony today and was our photographer and got to see where the classes are and meet the students.  Well, Mr. Best Attitude took a shining to Marathon Girl.  He's got game, because he had her name and email by the time he left!  He even asked for it in English!  Success!  Nice to know I taught a 17/30 year old man to pick up cute girls in English!

He is not interested in us...he has his eye on Marathon Girl!

After this year of teaching I think it might be a good idea for me to take a Spanish class in the fall.  I really need to know what my students are front of my face.  They could be plotting all sorts of things and I would not even know it!  Won't they be surprised next September when I start responding to their conversations in Spanish!  God bless them all, they certainly blessed my life.

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