Summer’s End

summer's end

(source)

The silver curtain has fallen. Summer is over in Shelton. Outside resembles a November storm. Temps won’t even hit 60 today. Leaves fall and the light has shifted. Plus, pumpkin spice. So, yeah. Summer, we barely knew ye! Please come again.

But there is good news. The summer term of Capella’s master’s program is over. It officially ended last Friday (the 13th). The infamous Dr. P of Ethics in the Public Sector sent out several emails. Wanting to finish early, I turned in the last of my work for that class on Saturday, September 7. Every time I got email, my heart would leap. It leapt very high when he created a new running calculator in Blackboard based on all the class assignments, not just on the ones that were graded. In other words, taking points earned divided by total points possible. That put me at a 69.9% in his new category called “final grade”. My heart plummeted into my socks. Still not sure why he did that, since Blackboard, the grading system, runs a current tally all the time based on submitted work, not all the assignments for the class. I did not respond to this email either, because his creating that category seemed unnecessary busywork and would cause more problems than solutions.

Maybe the emails would stop? But alas. “You should consider taking this FEMA training” with 14 paragraphs on how non-emergency management personnel needed the free seminar. Or “Capella offers these writing classes focusing on different areas”. Delete. And of course, “the class ends September 13. Here is every policy in the world Capella has for courses and grades”. Delete. Next up, “just touching base with everyone. Do you need anything from me?” Sigh. Maybe grade something?! Delete. Lastly, “here’s my personal email. I’m available outside the courseroom”. I emailed him a thank you because that needed a response. Not quite lastly, I guess, since 2 more emails came extending due dates because of Capella’s website conking out on folks.

Then nothing for 3 days. The last assignment for week 10 counted as 30% of my grade. It could still tank my GPA. I waited. I stalked the gradebook several times a day. Crickets.

Then last night, another email. “An attempt has been graded for 10A1”. Eek! I clicked and clicked to get to the grade. I got a….drumroll, please…99! I about fainted. Then I danced awkwardly because I could and it was dark. His feedback said the work was “outstanding” and “well thought out”. Yippee!

I breathed a sigh of great relief. Thank you, Lord. Let the break begin! Can we rewind summer?!

 

 

Summer Morning

 

summer morning.jpg

(source)

A moon-sliver floated above Dakota and I. The days are already getting shorter as darkness holds out against morning. The day dawned still and cool. A few choppy clouds floated in the sky, glowing peach against the blue.

Rex, behemoth cat, loves summer as much as I do. Lately, he’s been heading outside when I exercise Dakota. He sits on the front steps, black cat hidden in the shadows, meowing for some attention. My hand glides over his sleek fur. He arches his back into it. Then I move back to tossing the ball up and down the yard. As the sun rises and warms the earth, Rex stays outside. He camps out by a large fern and meditates and/or plots. He lolls on the ground. He soaks up the rays, a furry sun worshiper.

Rex
Carefree and cozy
Stretched out and shiny
Golden eyes blink pinpoint pupils
High on summer

Sorry. Poetry break. Next time I’ll warn you.

Summer won’t last much longer. Soon enough the rains will return and we’ll wonder if the sun has drowned. But this is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it. Rex reminds me to make the most of today, and to be grateful.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever. – Psalm 23:6

Stormy Season

quinalt

We’ve had a few storms blow over the West Coast this weekend.  I heard it was remnants of a typhoon, which sounded very exotic. Nothing happened like the Columbus Day storm of 1962, as originally predicted. The closer you lived to the sea, the more damage you sustained. But here…no need for water jugs or generators. Locally, A few tree branches knocked out fences. Some experienced short power outages. And rain, as in about 10 inches. I took a walk this afternoon to survey the neighborhood damage.

The rain had paused. But everything dripped. Red, gold, green and brown leaves – tree currency – littered the ground. Some stuck to the pavement from the damp adhesive. Nearly translucent, they clung with tenacity, like stamps to envelopes. Squirrels scurried up trees. Their gray poufy tails twitched as they gathered acorns. Birds chirped and hopped about, catching up on socializing. The hazel-eyed creek, swollen with runoff, curled and swirled around downtown with swiftness.

I breathed in the fresh scrubbed air. The relentless rain makes me restless. It creates a sort of barrier with its wet silver curtain. Nobody wants to go outside, or go anywhere, really. We all hibernate, dashing out into the damp to gather groceries or pump gas. It’s the season for getting lost in a book and drinking hot beverages.

I packed up my summer wardrobe yesterday as the rain drummed down. I boxed up all my sandals, shorts, lightweight dresses and capri pants. So long, summer. This year, it’s taken me awhile to get around to doing it. Oh, I had a couple of pieces on standby as the weather turned cooler. But I couldn’t quite surrender. Usually we have a last-ditch effort on the part of the dry season. A couple of freak hot days sneak onto the calendar and we all flip back to sleeveless mode. But summer is truly gone now.

I pulled out my knee-length boots and corduroys. I folded the sweaters and placed them on the shelf. I hung up skirts and blouses. I unpacked long-sleeved pajamas and fleece pants. I even dusted off the clown pants. Hey, you never know.

So I’m ready. Seasons change. I can’t hold onto summer like those soaked leaves stuck to the sidewalk. There’s a natural progression to the seasons and to this life. More storms will come, I’m sure. It’s time to move on.

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”– Genesis 8:22

Run On

runner

(source)

I haven’t written much lately. I tweaked my shoulder and have had a lot on my mind.

Like…I entered a race. I’ve thought about it all summer. This nice weather we have and by nice, I mean “not raining”(that’s Pacific Northwest lingo for you), should not be wasted. If you live in this area, you know that from June to September, every weekend gets jam packed with festivals, parades, carnivals and the like. Why? Because it’s sunny. Or at least trying to be. We give points for that, too. Everyone wants to be out and about in the vitamin D.

This is my convoluted way of saying I wanted to capitalize on my earlier running streak and take advantage of the good weather, too. All too soon, come November, nobody will want to be outside. The scenery will be shades of gray upon gray with a hint of brown for lively accent.

But there’s a bonus this year. Jonathon, eternal candidate for husband of the year, wants to run the 5K at the same time. Huzzah! Wouldn’t it be great if he fell in love with running, too? I’m trying not to get too excited and freak him out. It’s difficult.

I downloaded a Hal Higdon training schedule, free off the interwebs. I purposefully picked the Novice 2 level. Of course, this is my 6th half marathon. I have learned a thing or two. But I also know myself. No sense killing myself to get to the desired result. I plan to keep the 2 kettlebell workouts a week in the mix and get one rest day instead of two. I’ve jacked the plan all around to make it work for me. And, if it doesn’t work, I’ll change it again. Yes, Virginia, I can be flexible.

This is my latest adventure. I’m wiping the slate clean of old disappointments and injuries and expectations. I want to have fun and get stronger. Care to join me?

 

Beginning at the End

End of school year 2016

We took the kids out to Olive Garden last night to celebrate the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Ruby ordered a plate full of mussels in red sauce. She took two bites and decided she didn’t like them. Zac ordered the shrimp Alfredo and got a plate full of spaghetti with sausage. The waitress, bless her heart, took back the mussels and got them cleared off our bill. She brought out Zac’s original choice and Ruby nibbled the spaghetti. Win-win.

We talked about stuff going on. Working on the house. Work stuff for Jonathon and me. Church stuff. Ruby did the kids menu word search and puzzles. Zac wowed us with random facts about portion sizes at restaurants (30% larger than what we eat at home).

On the way home, we listened to Zac’s music. He likes dub step and trap music, as I’ve mentioned before. He talked about some of it being “old”, like almost 10 years old. He likes a lot of different sounds. Some of the songs had real instruments in them, trumpets and the like.

On the way home, stuffed and loaded down with take-home boxes, I asked the kids a question.

“What was the best thing that happened at school this year?”

“Definitely the note,” Ruby piped up from the back seat. Her teacher, new to Evergreen this year, typed her a personal note. She praised Ruby’s unconventional thinking, sense of humor and quirky style. She said Ruby could always jog her out of a bad mood. She loved her stories and writing and encouraged her to keep it up, even including her email so Ruby could send them along. It encouraged Ruby.

Zac had a different answer.

“I think the Smarter Balance test. I got 100% on it. It made me realize I have good essay skills.”

Yes, you do, my boy. The problem with being a 5-talent person is that someday you have to choose what to do with your life. Zac excels at English, science, writing, math…Choices, choices.

Later that night, Zac and I talked some more.

“You know, Mom, the sad thing is that this is the first year I actually *tried* at school.”

His face held a mixture of wistful longing and excitement. He’s not the little boy he was. The lines and planes of his face continue to emerge as he passes into adulthood. Yet for a moment, I glimpsed the blonde round-eyed child who used to wear blue blanket capes and jump off the furniture, hoping to fly. He would crouch on the couch cushion fort he made, spread his arms and leap. His smile lit up the room as he soared through the air.

“I know,” I said. “Think of what you can do next year. You’ll have tougher classes (who does that their senior year?!). You’ll need to grind it out, from the very beginning. Get a rhythm and keep it going all year.”

Zac has one more year of high school. Look out, son, I thought. The world hasn’t seen the best of you yet.

 

 

Boiling Monday

lobster in pot

(source)

Our preternatural summer continues. Jonathon filled the hot tub with the garden hose – dubbed the cold tub for now – which proved a great boon for us. Us Northwesterners have thick blood. These blistering days make us melt like slugs on the sidewalk. We’re more pleasant if we can cool our core body temperature.

With another hot day in the works, mornings are the best time to knock out a few. I ran 3 miles this morning. The hazy sunrise glowed pink and yellow on the horizon. A cool breeze blew out of the north. A few cars passed me. Other than that, all was quiet. It felt good to move.

I learned a few things this weekend. Thought I’d share them with you.

  • Getting your son into the SAT is not as easy as it sounds. One, you need to preregister online. Then you need to take a head shot and print out an entry ticket with the picture. The page will get cut off, printing either landscape or portrait. It’ll take the monster skills of your doctoral husband to beat it into submission. Secondly, they need another form of I.D. If your son has no driver’s license or permit, pray he has a student body card. Otherwise, it means a trip to the DOL and $54 to get an ID card to show he’s a real, live person. Oh, and he has to leave his phone at check in. He’ll have ruffled feathers about that.
  • You might learn a new song for worship and volunteer to play the shaker while you sing alto, to add some much-needed flavor to the song. Unbeknownst to you, this will prove harder than you think. Shaking a plastic rattle and singing a song you barely know, simultaneously, will strain your little gray cells. You might need a nap afterwards, like for two hours. Not that I’d know anything about that personally.
  • Despite all odds, one scorching day your kid and her pals will want to set up a blue tarp homemade slip ‘n’ slide on the asphalt driveway. When you say no, you’ll be labeled a bad momma.

They say you should learn something new every day. What did you learn this weekend?

 

 

 

Monday Morning Musings

A reminder.  Image by ryanmarciniak.com

A reminder. Image by ryanmarciniak.com

We have cooler air in Shelton today. A few hesitant clouds linger in the sky.  They seem unsure about whether to stick around or drift away. After a streak of 90+ degree days, it’s refreshing.  With a burn ban on in western Washington, our local 4th of July contained no fireworks.  The silence made me a little uneasy. A far cry from last year’s war zone.   Never mind that the air didn’t cool down anyway until after midnight.

Saturday, I did my first run/walk back since the calf injury.  I walked a mile, then ran a mile in spurts.  That is, I would walk a little, then run a couple of blocks.  I stuck to the flat part of town.  I wanted to go farther.  But I exercised restraint.  This time.

I’ve been thinking about trust lately. It’s a recurrent theme with me.

Trust in the Lord and do good.
    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you your heart’s desires.Psalm 37:3-4

I have some items on my mental prayer list that haven’t come to pass yet. Circumstances get murky and onerous and I wonder about God’s plan in all of it.  I think if I can focus on trusting the Lord and doing good to those around me, it helps.  I want to delight in the Lord whenever I get the chance.  I want to see Him all day, even in the little things. This fresh breeze blowing over me, the sun sparkling in the tree tops, the colorful flowers blooming everywhere, remind me of the Lord’s goodness back to me.  I will keep hanging on and hanging in.