Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vacation Time = Posting!

Hi all,

Once again, I'm aware of my negligence. The last few weeks have been the whirlwind of every day life, mixed in with a seminar retreat, the completion of an Americorps project, several doctor's appointments, Martinmas, and a scramble to help throw the Thanksgiving trip (plus my own vacation!) together.

So here I am, sitting on the coast of Maine, on a nice little island thoughtfully equipped with internet. No, it's actually a bunch of quite nice homes, and I'm visiting my former housemom. It's wonderful. The children have changed a fair bit in the last six months. The youngest is still his sunny self, while the middle has definitely found a place for herself and now it's the older who is in those tough pre-teen years. But they're all quite lovely still. And housemom is still housemom. Hard to describe really, except she's definitely a lot more relaxed and healthy looking... must be the island air?

I arrived Saturday night, managing not to strike any moose. I was welcomed warmly and enthusiastically, and after a good chat with housemom I snuggled down with the kids on the couch to finish the rest of the film "The Secret of Roan Inish"... which brings back childhood memories of my own. After a lovely dinner and bedtime for the kids, housemom and I sat around for hours talking about life changes, friends of ours, the future, etc. I think we both were up until about 12:30!

The next morning we had blueberry clafouti for breakfast, which was amazing, as usual. Then housemom did something I hadn't ever seen...she whipped out her guitar and soon everyone was singing. Housemom had mentioned she'd had time for music now, and I could see how much she missed it. Afterward, we bundled up and went to the local (huge) toystore, to drop one of the kids off for a play date. Then we went to their cafe, and then I finally got to go to the illustrious prison shop. The program's been going for 80 years, and it makes me wonder why all states don't have a program...it helps support the costs of the prisoners, gives them a skill and a trade that is valuable in the outside world and produces nice products at a very affordable price. Then we went over to the grocery store before finally picking up the kid.

We went home and a music friend of housemom's came by to practice a few songs. Their voices complement each other well, and it was fun to listen to. We had a nice filling dinner of stew and bread, and had some more chatting before bed.

I slept in ridiculously late (10:30! It was so quiet!!!) while housemom took the kids to school and did her morning job. I got up and had some breakfast and did some reading, and then ended up curled up on the couch with Callie. Who's a complete snuggler, so we stayed curled up (she likes to tuck her face against things...like arms...or the floor if nothing else is available) and were quite comfy for a 1.5 hour long nap. Such luxury I have missed! And a good choice too, as Max, the other cat is recovering from a recent skunk-spraying and is still rather fragrant at close proximity! We went for a nice, rainy walk around the island and then picked up the kids, after playing and dinner we tucked them in and waited for the sitter. We went out to one of the local bars for a Blues band. It was pretty good, although the average demographic was 60 and slightly toothless, so we got a lot of laughs in. A personal highlight for housemom was the 60+ plus guy in a kilt...oh dear.

Anyhow, I suppose I could catch you up on my Americorps project: I took one of the villages (an especially endearing friend of mine) to the local community college to talk to 2 classes about the village and Americorps. Now they both want to take tours! In between the classes we went to several of our suppliers and had lunch. It was Veteran's day, and so we saw some interesting men, one had his mustache twisted out 6 inches...an impressive sight, I must say. We had a good day and got back in time to help close the co-op early for the Martinmas celebration...which was a short skit and a lantern walk However, completing the project now means that I can exit the term and re-enter on my second. Which I will do shortly.

Strange to think that I've been here for almost a year...

Hope all is well,

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dear God, it's only 3 AM!

Hi all,

Lately, the very thought of blogging put me into overload...I had all my home stuff to do and everything just kept piling up and up and up...so I give up. You can see from the pictures that I had an amazing time at home, I cooked a German feast, was surrounded by the friends and family that I love. I got to go riding, I visited my grandma and got to cuddle with her dog and make/tear lots of lefse. I ate pie for breakfast. I said goodbye to my brother who was leaving to basic. I visited some friends. I lived.

And then I came back.

Drama, drama, drama. Most of it not concerning me. However, the Co-op has been having trouble with people using it outside business hours as a snackatorium and leaving messes. So Buttercup (yay...a name for my co-op partner, who also really loves Princess Bride!) and I went to the higher ups. And we got attention. And so we've been having meetings and meeting and more meetings in the past few weeks. On top of this I've been trying to help organize the second half of the Thanksgiving trip, plan my "vacation" the first half to see Housemom, arranging my external Americorps project and being a part of other more normal meetings for village life and Americorps...

Did I mention the Dr. appointments???

I was thrilled to get a GPS from my parents as an early Christmas present, and I hope they really realized it. Anyhow, I had done a visit to the neighboring community to make up a paper that I missed the week I was gone (ah yes, 1st year seminar is in full swing!), and Hum hadn't realized - despite a conversation earlier and my signing out the car for the agreed time - that I'd have the car back in time for her to do the school pick up. She hadn't scheduled the appointment with enough time beforehand to do the school run. So I spent the next hour calling around to various houses to find a van for us to use. I was taking Maria and Franklin to an eye doctor appointment, but I couldn't get a signal for the gps, so I headed out in the direction that Hum had told me it was in. The GPS kicked in 20 minutes with that fatal phrase: "As soon as possible, turn around". So yes, after some sorting out, it turns out we were actually supposed to go in the OPPOSITE direction...so we were a 1/2 hour late. But it worked out. Except I didn't get any lunch, and went straight to work when we got back.

I thought that the week's drama was behind me, but I found out not so the very next day. Maria's dentist appointment had been re-scheduled since it occurred when I was at home on vacation. God forbid they attempt to find someone else to do it. I had contacted a co-worker about letting them know when I had to pick her up, but the message wasn't carried through, or they plain forgot. I was there on time, and there was NO Maria. Shit. So I went from green house to green house, to fields to finally back to the co-worker. We found her in the barn, of all the stupid places....near the door so she wouldn't gag a bunch - perfect for right before a trip to the dentist!

So we were 10 minutes late, because I took the back road. 5 minutes in the waiting room and I was called back...NOT standard operating procedure! Well, she was freaking out...not holding still, gagging before they even got close to her mouth...so I had to talk her through it. They finally put on a movie - but it had a dog like her's at home. She was so happy that she burst into tears...bewildering the poor and frazzled technician. Then she forgot that she was happy and wondered why she was sad if she was crying...Sigh. We had to have me sing, bring up Michael Jackson, keep a running dialogue and keep telling her to lean back and open up, all to get the minimum cleaning done! We were all at our emotional wit's ends by the time it was all finished. The technician then presented me with a free toothbrush!

Needless to say, we needed some therapy after that...we cranked up the radio and hollered along..."The tide is highhhhhh and I'm hollllllldin' onnnnnnnnn...."


However, I had the great fortune to go on a quick overnight camping trip with Julia last night. We stocked up on junkfood and liquid refreshment and went and set up her tent in pitch darkness. Daylight revealed us to be next to a veritable junkyard of tetanus-inducing farm equipment with a treacherous slope (and evil picnic bench...ouch) with ginormous fire pit, near a slimy water pit thing. In the dark we built up a beautiful fire, talked our heads off...destressing, ranting, and LAUGHING...a typical us experience. It was wonderful...and then we went to bed...before 10. Cheap dates, the both of us!

We tossed and turned all night long on the extremely cold, hard and slightly tilted ground. The only thing I'd forgotten was my contact case. We were both awake at the same time, when she had to go out to the bathroom ( past the scary lived-in 15 seater converted van...) I looked at my watch and exclaimed in dismayed tones: "It's only 3!" We both lost it...and continued to toss and turn. At about 4-5 my feet started to get cold, and I was more than happy by the time 8 rolled around. We packed up in record time, laughing and relieved. We'd been woken several times by car doors slamming - apparently it's deer season here. Julia heard someone remark that they weren't sure it was ok for us to be there, but she refrained from chiming out that we'd gotten express permission from the park ranger. All in all, quite an experience that we polished off with a large brunch.

Then I came home and slept for 3.5 hours. And then did seminar homework and tidied my room, doing laundry. I will reward myself (and everyone else...) with a shower soon...very exciting.

Hope all is well,