Saturday, August 29, 2015

Goofballs by the River

We went to Lou Mac Park for Adam's astronomy class, to watch the rising moon. A thick cloud bank prevented that, but I asked these two sillies for a picture or two. Julia complied. She even hugged her daddy, but she didn't think she wanted a kiss on the head ...

They are quite fond of each other. 16 year olds aren't all bad!
Our move to the farm is nearly done. Go check it out, if you haven't done so recently.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How the Week Is Going

Right now? It's gully-washing outside. So much rain. This makes us nervous because our contractor repaired the bad spots in the ceiling at the farmhouse, but we don't think he's repaired the roof yet. Seems a backwards way to do things, unless he put some buckets in the attic, which he may have done. If the roofer he chose didn't show up, he said he'd do it himself. Maybe he did and we didn't notice? Hmm. Getting a house worked on is nervous business.

It's Thursday. We must, must, must be out of this house by Monday evening, and somehow -- how? -- be "living" in the farmhouse by then. It seems nearly impossible. I shifted around all the stuff (boxes, bags, junk, etc.) in the storage building so that Anna's bed can fit in there, so she'll have a clean, private place to sleep. We'll move the futon from the front bedroom to the office for Julia, and vacuum/dust the office for her. It has a thin layer of drywall dust on everything. Then only Adam and I need a place to sleep. I think we'll throw our mattress on the floor in the front bedroom. It's rather frightful in there -- more drywall dust from the sheetrock work in the living and dining rooms. The contractor said he would do a good clean-up. Here's hoping so! We told him our deadline. I hope he understands that starting Tuesday morning, his worksite will have a family of four with two dogs, living in it.

My new job is going okay. Monday was average. Tuesday was good. Yesterday was a bit stressful. It helps that I've worked with middle schoolers before for years, and worked with troubled kids. In a group of 20 kids, you're certain to have some who've had bad days (or bad lives), sadness at home, are bullies, are whiners, are struggling academically. It's a juggling act, and managing 6th graders is a bit like herding cats. I expect it to smooth out with time. It is a challenge to find activities for them that they enjoy and are enriching, and to fit it all into the bigger schedule.

Julia had a slightly better week with her math class, thanks mostly to her brother Peter who has been tirelessly Skyping her most evenings, walking her through it. But honestly, that's not a doable situation for him for the whole semester. And she's been doing that at a friend's house where she really enjoys being in the evenings -- a house a bit calmer than ours right now. We have minimal furniture left in the house, no pictures on the walls, hardly any food in the frig -- typical emptying house scenario, but it adds to her stress, which is high. She needs the comfort of home to cope with the coursework, and right now home isn't very comforting.

Adam is managing. He has so many balls to juggle in the air -- hefting furniture, working with the contractor, taking care of a dying congregant and her family, helping drive Julia to New Bern, trying to get his Jaguar running so he can drive it to the farm, comforting me as I start a new job, cooking dinners for us, managing his own stress. It's a little overwhelming right now.

Anna flits in and out. She has only a mattress on her floor, poor thing! She works long hours waiting tables and rests much of the remainder of her time, when she's not helping us tote stuff to the farm. She's been losing weight because she's on her feet so much, they don't feed her at the restaurant, and we have minimal meals here right now, in the middle of our chaos. I'm hoping, so hoping, that things will settle back into a normal routine soon. We are all quite weary with the weight of the constant state of discomfort.

But -- we have much to be thankful for, and I don't want to forget that! I'm working to adjust Julia's class load so she can manage it herself. The farmhouse is coming along. We seem to have moved adequate amounts of furniture thus far. I don't hate my new job - haha! (Some people do find themselves in that situation!) Life is manageable, as long as we don't have to do it like this too much longer. As Julia said last night, she realized at one point that her whole life had somehow changed, and she didn't know exactly how that happened, and she doesn't like it.

I understand. Sometime in early June life started to unravel for us, and we have not found ourselves able to knit it back together into the happy state we had. Too many stressors have occurred simultaneously for all of us, so we can't support each other well, although we try. Have you ever had a time in life that became dark and scary, when the thunderstorms rolled in, the sky became black and gloomy, and you wondered where the sunshine went? August is my least favorite month, and I think this August is my least favorite of all the 52 Augusts I've known.

Okay, enough whining! By this time next week, I hope to tell you that we are living on the farm. Exactly what that will look like, remains to be seen. I hope we're not eating our meals under a film of drywall dust.

Monday, August 24, 2015

First Day!

With great fear and trembling, this afternoon I entered a classroom again (after about five years' absence), this time with sixth graders. This is HeartWorks! My colleague and I have 23 kids on our roster, but today only about 15 came. Here's our classroom:
The building is an old car dealership, so the classroom area is one LARGE space (where they worked on the cars), now separated by partitions. So the space is rather noisy at times.
We had a nice snack, drew some zentangles, listened to a read-aloud of Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (chapter one), talked a bit about setting and characters, played outside, learned a couple of games (rather half-heartedly), and eagerly went home. This was the kids' first day of school (before coming to our program in the afternoon), so they were pretty exhausted. Most days we'll spend time on their homework, but they had none on this their first school day.

It's a hard line to walk -- making the environment enriching and supportive of their academics without making it just three more hours of school, after a long day of school already. We don't want that. But we want far more than babysitting. I feel if I get in something substantial each day that contributes to their education, I've done well. And I'm a big fan  of unstructured play time, which they get for about 30 minutes outside each day.

It's strange to be working again, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. It's odd getting off at 6:00 and home at 6:30. That's late!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Slowing Down to Breakneck Speed

I haven't been posting very often lately, partly because I'm posting a lot over at the Red Robin Farm blog (click on over to read the latest). There's lots going on at the farm. But mostly because we are all exhausted and utterly spent from all that's going on in life right now.

1. We must be out of our current house before Sept. 1. Repairs on the house are progressing, but we will likely be living in a total construction zone. Sigh. Adam has done huge work on the out-building. (He is exhausted.) We must cram ourselves into two bedrooms. Most of our stuff will be squeezed into the out-building.We are moving ourselves using our mini-van, which is doable, but will keep us zipping back and forth for the next ten days. The house is full of sheetrock and huge power tools, and they haven't started on the roof and ceilings yet.

2. I just started a part-time job, yes, I did! It seemed like a good time -- Julia's only homeschooling one class this year (French II) with me. I have more time. We can use the money. So ... right in the middle of our repairing and moving, I did two full days of training yesterday and today, and on Monday I start working, 2:30-6:00 M-F. I'm a tutor/teacher at a non-profit afterschool program here in our county called HeartWorks. I was so nervous and stressed about this job that earlier this week my nerves were giving me a tummy ache, 24/7. But the training has gone so well, and the people there are so wonderful, that I'm not nervous anymore. My two days there have been a real joy, and a little bit of escape from the other stressors of life.
Our team at in-service did a great job of using cards to build a tall tower.
We folded the cards - -clever!

3. So much is going on at our church. One of our precious elderly members is in hospice and in her final days. Also, there are other difficulties right now that have caused both of us to be on the very edge of our ability to cope. All pastors and their wives out there will smile sadly and understand.

4. Julia has finished her first week of classes at the community college in New Bern. This is 30 minutes away from the new house, so one of us must drive her and wait for her to be done. She is fine in her English comp. class, but the math class (Pre-Calc Algebra) has thoroughly done her in. Her stress level is much, much higher than mine right now (and that's sayin' something!). It's been a terrible struggle, with many tears and hours of trying to help her do assignments online. We still don't know how this will resolve -- coping with the class (seems unlikely), changing to another course (complicated), or withdrawing and attending the local high school (not a great option). Adam and I have tried to be helpful, but we can barely handle our own issues right now, much less Julia's. Home life has been wearying.

So ... there's an honest assessment of life recently! If any of these situations would just resolve and be done, it would be so helpful! Prayers are appreciated. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks life will have settled into a bit less chaos and crying. For you teachers out there, today I even cried in front of total strangers in our in-service training, just because some of the activities touched a little too close to home. I don't usually do that, and felt ridiculous although everybody was very sweet.

We all just want some NORMAL again. I hate waking up each morning, and two seconds later remembering: "Oh, ugh. I have to face all that again. I liked my dream better. Can I just go back there and skip this life?" Do you ever feel that way? I know you do. Do you ever have the huge knot in your stomach that makes you feel sick, keeps you from eating, and hurts? Yep. Mine is finally going away slowly. Julia's is still there, poor thing.
Julia tolerated one photograph on her first day of school.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Boat Names in Oriental

It's been a while since I shared boat names with you. These names generally come from Sailcraft, but some may have been spotted elsewhere.
Kokopelli, if you can't make it out
Not knowing what Kokopelli meant, I typed it into Google and discovered it's a Native American fertility god. It's also the name of a trail in Colorado, so I think I'll go with that one!
Many boat names reference the night sky. I think boaters are particularly aware of the stars and night sky in general. Makes sense.
Boats are feminine, you know, and quite romantic.

I'm not familiar with this name either; some boaters pick rather obscure words for names. Apparently there's a people group called the Wuji, and it's a concept in Chinese philosophy.
Calculation ... math? figuring out your location when you're lost? I mean, why choose that word above all other words as you boat name? I'm sure they had a reason. I'd love to know.
Many boats have sweet names like Angel's Wing.
Ocean Wanderer

The punny ones are my favorite :) The sails are sheets, for you landlubbers out there.
Again ... back to the night sky.
This boat is waiting for her perfect name -- the old one scraped away, the new one in someone's mind somewhere.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Red Robin Farm Blog!

Hi, y'all! Guess what? I'm starting a new blog for our new adventure, Red Robin Farm. I'll put a few links to the first few posts here, so you can click over and see if you want to follow that blog. It will keep the news about the farm tidily in one place, and allow us to direct that enterprise toward an eventual business, and keep its information from cluttering up this personal blog too much. I'll also have a permanent link here at "Through a Glass" so that you can just click over there when you want to.

Hooray for our new homestead!

Links to Red Robin Farm:
Welcome to the Farm!
First Day on the Farm
Cleaning without Water

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why We Should Bury Our Hopes

"Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness."
Psalm 37:3

That phrase, "cultivate faithfulness," also means "feed on God's faithfulness" or "feed securely."

I ruminate on this idea, that God's faithfulness to me is something that's supposed to nourish and feed my soul. It's a food/farming metaphor, but David the poet loves metaphors, so I'm on safe ground. 

God's faithfulness to me is like soil, good garden soil. It's solid and you can stand on it, but it's also loamy and you can dig into it, examine it, and bury seeds into it. Like physical soil God's faithfulness is life-giving, so seeds that are buried into it will germinate, grow, flourish, and eventually feed me.

What kind of seed do I bury into God's faithfulness? What do I take of my own, and I give it to God, and I say, "Here, God, please do something with this. Make it grow."

I think the seeds are our hopes. We can't make them grow and feed us, but God can. On our knees we scoop up a handful of God's faithfulness to us, and we examine it. How do we know He is faithful? We think about our lives, the decades behind us, and remember how He has brought us out of many troubles, how He has guided us to make good decisions, how He has redeemed and transformed our bad decisions, how He has loved us anyway. That faithfulness is the soil to which we now take our tiny, last, precious seed of itty-bitty hope, and into which we bury that seed. Our last hope.

Then what? We wait. Seeds don't sprout immediately. Hopes don't mature today. But God is faithful, and His soil always brings life, and in time the hope will pop through into the daylight and grow and become beautiful.

But that's not the goal -- the goal, as Ps. 37:3 says, is to nourish and feed us. God's faithful soil isn't lawn grass, it's vegetables! It will enrich our souls and satisfy our spirits and make us trust Him more for the next round of troubles that will come.

Bury your hopes. Give them up. Hand them to God and He will hand them back to you -- better, bigger, satisfying, mature. As the very next verse says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." If we delight in Him, of course, He is our desire. 

Many, many thanks to the dear friend who shared this psalm again with me this week. It has been a blessing over and over.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Oriental Watermelon Cutting

Every year Mrs. Faye Bond treats the entire town to a watermelon cutting. Free, fresh, local watermelon in her yard. Can you beat that? That's community and building friendship with neighbors. Here's Miss Faye with her family helpers:
She's 90-something.
Julia and Anna enjoyed a slice each. You can have as much as you like.
Dozens and dozens of folks come on bikes, golf carts, legs, or maybe a car.

Bo-Beau came! Julia sneaked him nibbles of watermelon.
We saw our friend Lily, the Great Dane.
The weather cooperated admirably.
I'm not really a watermelon eater, but Adam (who ate for both of us) said it was delicious.
Then we rode our bikes to Lou Mac Park and watched the flat-bottom clouds and the tilted sailboats.
I told Adam we should stop by The Bean and get some ice cream, to extend the date. Adam is all about extending the date. He rode home really fast on his bike to retrieve his wallet and met me at the Methodist Church, from which we rode to The Bean, which was empty of clientele.

Everybody was at the watermelon cutting, of course. We ate our massive scoops of ice cream in peace and enjoyed the view of town dock.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Whittaker Dock Redo

In spite of the blistering heat this summer, I have occasionally been on my bike. Sometime in the past week Adam and I made it out to Whittaker Creek Marina and walked the east dock. Happily, the dockmaster is replacing the entire dock, maybe 100 yards worth of wood planks. This is the view one way:
And the other way. He still needs to trim the planks' edges even.
To assist with the work, he has a long floating barge in the marina cut, next to the dock, loaded with a back hoe with a pile driver attachment on it. See the long pilings lying on the barge?
Here are two pilings. The bottom one is the new one. The top one is the extracted, old one. See the water line?
The new piling is much longer than the old one
Here's the spot where the work was at the moment. The wood weathers grey and brown.
The lines lying on the docks are grey and weathered too.
At the spot where the old dock wood meets the new, a plank lies across for boat owners to step over. Many boats had to be moved to alternate slips to make way for the barge and the piling extraction.
Maintaining a dock is no easy job! And our brackish water is rather tough on everything.
Even the boat boxes where people store things had to be moved out of the way.
These short dock extensions are being removed and redone as well.
Boats were moved from this water. The big blue library boat (okay, it's a library in my imagination!) used to float here. Remember it?
What a mess! The narrow slice of water where the barge sits is between the land and the dock, which runs parallel to the land. So the barge serves the purpose of passing the old pilings across to the land. See them stacked in the background? That way, the dockmaster doesn't have to haul those pilings down the dock, around the corner, and by the club house.
The barge is pushed around by a cute little tug boat of sorts. This is a casual operation, but it's still not cheap. We were told that each piling costs $750 to replace. That's quite a cost. The slip owners have bought their slips, and they pay an association fee too. Many slip owners rent out their slips to others if their own boats are not there.
There you have it. Today's temps and humidity are so very lovey -- what a relief! We will go biking in town, and next time we're out at Whittaker I'll try to remember to take photos and give an update on the new dock.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Catching Up

I'm sorry to say that I'm still struggling with my photo situation here on ye olde blogge. Hmm. Google Photos does a lovely job of syncing all my photos immediately onto their website. It even lifts them straight from my phone without my doing anything at all. However ... for some reason there is NO quick, easy, intuitive process to upload photos from that website to this blog. And both things are Google's. Why? Bleh.
Yesterday Oriental hosted yet another sailing event, the Hoop Pole Regatta, a kids' sailing race on sunfishes and FJs. A girl in our church participated in this race and placed 10th.
 I shot these photos from the end of the Lou Mac pier.
 Many of the races on the Neuse look like wandering chaos, to be honest. And if you're in them, they sometimes feel like long, languid, wandering chaos! But these kids had guide boats and the course was pretty tight. So they looks like little sails doing an intricate dance on the river dance floor. Waltzing boats -- there's an idea! It was lovely to watch.
 And here, my friends, is the REAL Farley, whose picture I snapped at the farmers' market yesterday. He's a character in my latest Dog Days of Oriental story, "Muffin Comes to Town."
 Hiya, Farley!
I finished a green shawl for the local Prayer Shawl ministry this week. I got down to the final two stitches (as you see on the needle), and I had less than two inches of yarn left. Knitters, has this ever happened to you? I had to start an entire new skein of yarn, for those two stitches. That's ridiculous!
 Peter returned to college this past week too. I hugged him quite a few times and felt rather teary. He does so well at school and was excited to go back, but I loved having him here this summer. He had a great time, made lots of great friends, had fun and worked hard. He'll miss these two pups, and they'll miss him. They slept with him at night, all snuggled up together on the futon.
 And he's off!
Come home soon!
Well, I did get these photos to load fine. I uploaded them from "my phone" directly, instead of trying any other uploading method. That's great ... except it means I will never be able to edit a photo, because I can't edit it on my phone -- cropping or anything else. Grr. I can do that on Google Photos, but then I have no clue how to get the photos to the blog. Or anywhere else, for that matter. I had a bugbear of a time getting photos to load into Trip Advisor, to do a few reviews. If you have ideas about how to use Google Photo for blogger, please do tell!