Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Afternoon Stress Release

Today we had an early release at our school and the staff had a Wellness afternoon. We had choices between volleyball, pickle ball, jazzercise, Dance Dance Revolution, and a variety of other options. I, being the sedentary person that I have become, chose jazzercise. Go figure. What was I thinking? I was so tired and that was after the first fifteen minutes! However, I'm proud to say that I lasted throughout the approximately forty-five minute workout. I was so glad that I had supper cooking in my slowcooker, although my Avon order arrived today so I had to sort that out, but I enjoy doing that. Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to say that I didn't enjoy exercising, but it has been a loooonnnngggg time since I've done more than go for a walk. Once the session was done, I felt exhilerated and satisfied knowing that I'll be feeling this tomorrow, at least if I did it right. At the beginning of the day, I considered hiding in my room correcting projects instead, but I decided to give it a try and I don't regret it.

Years ago, and I mean about fifteen years ago, I used to do arobics then walk about three miles aftwards. I did this three times a week and was in pretty good shape. Now that I'm pushing 40 (this year!) I find getting back into a routine such as that is difficult. What makes it hard are the other responsiblities that make scheduling exercise difficult. When I did this, I had no children, just myself and my ex. Now, I have a family and now a job that oftentimes takes up a few hours in my evenings, too, especially at the end of the quarter like now. Also, trying to schedule in time to write is just as difficult. I know prioritizing is important, and trust me, I've tried, but by the time I'm finished all that I wanted to accomplish once I'm home, it's nearly 8:00 PM and it's too late to exercise.

Some day in a perfect world, there will be 36 hours in a day, which will give me more time to do things that I need to and want to do. The thing is, with my luck, someone will add more that we can do during that time to still leave me with less time for myself.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Snow Storm

Okay, so I so enjoyed Friday, Saturday, and yesterday. The warm temperatures of 40's and 50's really brought out the spring fever in me. Everything was melting, the snowbanks were receding and we were beginning to see some grass, dead and brown, but it was there. However, this morning when I got up at 5:00 AM to let the dogs out, it was snowing! Big, fluffy, and heavy snowflakes dropped down to the ground. By the time I left the house, the road was fully covered with at least 2 to 3 inches and not a snowplow in sight.

By the end of the day, what was supposed to be a light snowfall with little to no accumulation became nearly a foot of white stuff on the roof of my car! The snow was so wet that it stuck to the window screens so we couldn't see outside. I even began humming, "It's Beginning to Look at Lot Like Christmas" throughout the day and would spontaneously whistle, "Jingle Bells", which would get me strange looks from my students.

My usually 12 to 15 minute drive home from work at normal speed took me nearly 20 minutes instead. I was in a long line of cars creeping along at 25 to 30 miles per hour. The line was so long that I couldn't see the lead car ahead of me or the tail end of our line. And of course, just to make me feel even more tense driving home, I had to have an oil truck following behind me. I made it home with my precooked chicken and brown and serve buns ready for an easy and early supper. I have no intentions of leaving the house the rest of the night. Spring brings out my desire to get out and move, but snow brings out the hibernator in me, and that's what I intend to do the rest of the night.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Old Barn

I don’t know how things are in your neck of the woods, especially in rural areas, but here in Northern Maine, we’ve still got some old buildings that have been left abandoned for generations, peppered here and there across the landscape. Their weathered, cedar-shingled walls grayed and browned by the elements, giving the buildings a frayed and fragile appearance. Often times when I drive by these buildings, I wonder how it looked, inside and out, when it was in its prime, what it may have been like to live there growing up. I tend to feel sentimental about those places, almost feeling sorry that the building won’t continue being used as a home, barn, or shed. The words “discarded” and “abandoned” seem to describe the essence of these buildings best. Now, they are often covered by overgrown brush, Mother Nature’s way of taking back what humans had helped themselves to long ago.

Yesterday afternoon, Hubby and I went sightseeing around our area. Perhaps because it was such a warm and beautiful day (we hit the low 50’s!), or because we were bored and wanted a change of pace. After a while of driving, we came across this small barn. As we drove by it, I saw how there’s a special charm to the building. We turned up the road and turned around again, and then Hubby stopped so I could take a couple of pictures. I took it at this angle because I felt it was the building’s best side. I loved its charm, almost like it was left with the intentions of someone coming back later that day to continue working.

The first picture is what it originally looked like, untouched. It would have been nicer had the sun stayed out, but sometimes the best pictures are the ones that are the unexpected ones, the ones that don’t follow any plans. The second photo is altered; I blurred the edges a little and antiqued it. Which one do you like best? I personally like the doctored one. It’s softer and looks aged. I’m curious to learn what others think.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring Has Sprung!!

What a beautiful day, although I only got to enjoy it for a short time after school let out. I didn’t mind, though. I called up my neighbor, a.k.a. walking partner, and we went for a 30-minute walk. That felt really good. I’ve been pretty stationary all winter, mainly because I just don’t like being cold and in the dark so much, especially the wind. It’s gets pretty bad coming down from the potato fields. It seems to pick up speed. Spring always brings out the exercise bug in me.

I had so much energy, having been dealing with a doozy of a cold for a week. Maybe it’s the beautiful weather, or perhaps I’m getting over that cold (finally!), or because I have a workshop tomorrow, giving me a break from the middle schoolers. Who knows? Perhaps it’s a combination of all three. Anyhow, the highlight of my day was supper. Hubby fired up the gas grill and he cooked up a nice slab of moose steak. Man, was that good! There’s nothing like cooking on the grill. I know I’m putting gas in the same category as charcoal, but as far as I’m concerned, at this point, I wasn’t cooking in the house, it was all outside and that makes all the difference in the food. I didn't get a chance to get a picture of our grill still partially buried in snow, so I found this one on line. Food looks really good. Perhaps I'll make chicken with grilled vegetables tomorrow night.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today our temperatures hit the 40’s! Yahoo!!! Yippee!! I so loved it. Although I felt crappy and exhausted because of this terrible cold, I couldn’t help but enjoy a few spare moments soaking in the sun. The few minutes I got helped to make me feel a little better.

Once I got home from school I changed into my comfortable clothes, which included a black Maine sweatshirt. I got supper started then went to enjoy a little of the sunshine. I love sitting on the steps of my back porch soaking up the sun. The back of our house gets most of the sun; in the summer, it shines from midmorning until it sets in the evening. It’s a great place for a garden and also where we’ve placed our greenhouse. That’s what I enjoy about our home, the constant sunshine. The front of our house hardly gets any sun, just a few hours in the wee hours of the morning in the summer, and that’s it.

Well, while I’m sitting on the back porch, the boys are in their ski pants, winter jackets, and boots enjoying what we still have for snow and Hubby is chopping the ice that we still have on our bricks. The ice is a little more than an inch thick, but it’s quite slushy because of the warm temperatures. There’s finally no wind, so I don’t even feel chilly sitting outside without a jacket. It felt so refreshing breathing in the fresh air and feeling the warmth soak into my skin. Too bad I couldn’t stay longer. Duty calls, there’s supper to finish, laundry to do, and floors to clean. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll find a little more time to sit outside. It’s suppose to be warmer than today. I do believe that spring has sprung (cliché and I know).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hurry Spring!

It’s definitely time for summer to get here. We need to open the windows, do the grand manage (aka spring cleaning), and change the air. I’ve got yet another cold, my second one in two months. Either that, or my allergies are really acting up. Anyhow, a beautifully warm, spring day would be great to open some windows and refresh things.

I’m so tired of being cold. Although it’s been in the mid to low 30’s lately, there is still a cold, brisk breeze that cuts through you and the evenings are still in the high teens and low twenties. I miss sitting in the backyard letting the heat from the sun warm my skin. I know what they say about sun tanning, but there’s nothing like having the sun warm my soul. Yesterday, I was heading over to visit my parents, twenty minutes away, and had the sun hitting on me the entire drive there. It felt so good! It made me anxious for summer even more. It will be nice to walk out of the house to head somewhere without having to put on layers of clothing. Just slip on some flip-flops, grab my purse and keys, and off I go.

We’ve since finished off our wood to heat our home, and are now using oil until fall. There is such a difference in the heat. The cellar is much cooler than before, and I dread going down there to do the laundry. Not one of my favorite places to go. I’ll tell you, though; nothing beats the warmth you get from a fire in the stove. I so loved throwing wood in there and watching the flames lick along the sides of the log, melting away the bark. The heat felt so good, especially when we had double digits below zero a couple of months ago. Those days were brutal, but we made it. Our Husky, Bandit, appreciated coming into the warm cellar during those nights to get away from the cold. He also loved the warm meals we’d give him to warm him up from the inside, too.

We still have plenty of snow out there, but I’ve noticed that the sun has been doing its job. The six-foot high snow banks at the edge of my parent’s driveway were starting to recede. I could actually see any oncoming traffic before the back end of my Focus was in the road. There is hope! Sorry for the cynicism, but by the time the Spring Equinox arrives, spring fever has struck me so hard that I begin to really dread more snow and cold. I’m finished with the winter sports of skiing (which I don’t really enjoy) and snowshoeing. Now, I’m so looking forward to taking long hikes in the potato fields behind my house, riding bike along the lake, and long walks on my road, and of course, lying in the warm sun in something small soaking in the heat.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

For many years, I’ve had the strong desire to write. I’ve always had that romantic image of sitting at some desk in a secluded room near a window overlooking some relaxing view of nature and writing, just writing. I guess it’s similar to the ideal vision in Chevy Chase’s movie, Funny Farm, where he and his wife move to a little town in Vermont so he can work on his writing career. The twist is that his wife ends up writing a book and getting it published while he receives failure after failure. Well, anyhow, that scene, being able to sit in a room like that and be inspired to write something fantastic is what I would love to be able to do. Then I wake up.

I also have another vision, one where I’m sitting on an enclosed porch of some large, old Victorian house surrounded on three sides with trees and overlooking a large body of water. Perhaps the ocean, but preferably a lake, mainly because I’m concerned for hurricanes and don’t want to have to deal with them. Anyhow, a comfortable, warm breeze is blowing through my sitting area and I’m at a table writing away on some fantastic novel, perhaps a new best seller. Wildlife amble by without concern for their safety and I can focus on this fantastic new book I’m writing. Then I wake up.

There’s this last image I have of the perfect place to write, and it’s in a little, one-room cabin nestled in the middle of the forest. My writing desk sits near a window overlooking all things natural, and an old-fashioned, cooking wood stove sits across the room where water is boiling for my hot cocoa, and keeping my cabin toasty and warm. There are bookshelves lining the walls of the cabin with a large, overstuffed chair in the corner with a lamp hanging over it for light. The only way to the cabin in the winter is by snowshoes and the only prints you see around the cabin are of rabbit, deer, and the occasional moose. Birds hang out by the tree right outside the window eating the seeds in the bird feeder, and chase away the squirrels that try to help themselves. It’s a great atmosphere to write that next best novel. Then I wake up, again

Hollywood has created many romanticized images for those who aspire to be a writer. Some are possible and others are far from being realistic. I may never get any of these dreams realized, but it’s something to work for. In the meantime, I’ll have to do with finding a corner in my small, one-story ranch home that I share with my hubby and two stepsons, and find the right times that allow me to write without too many distractions. Someday I’ll get my own little corner of the world.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Snow. Tiny, six-sided crystals of water that glisten like diamonds when the sun is shining, sparkling like glitter that have been scattered all over the ground. It can be light and fluffy, blowing easily in the slightest breeze, or wet and heavy, weighing down the trees and their branches. In the beginning of the season, snow has a magical quality that everyone can appreciate, but as the winter drags on, and the more it accumulates, the less it holds its charm. By mid-January we begin to get tired of this white stuff. On warm days, it changes quality and can turn to a dirty, salty, slushy-brown mush that stains your pant legs when you walk, dirties up your shoes, creating a salt mark on leather, and sticks to the bottom half of your car.

There’s a time for snow. From November to January it’s almost necessary to have snow to help create the magical ambiance of Thanksgiving, the miraculous enchantment of Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, and exciting allure of New Year’s Eve. However, after months of bi-weekly snowstorms that close schools and bury cars in the driveways and parking lots, with thirty-mile per hour winds and sub-zero, double-digit temperatures, we’re ready for spring when mid-March comes around.

As a child, I always wanted snow for my birthday, which is in mid-November. If I awoke to the scene of snow on the rooftops and lawns it would make my day. Even to this day it I feel a special little-girl feeling if there’s snow on the ground on my birthday, like Mother Nature giving me a little gift just for me. However, after the holidays have passed the need for the charm is gone. Come mid-March, it’s time for the snow to start disappearing. I’ve seen years when there’s still snow on the ground up until May! I read the blogs that others have written about how they have flowers blooming and the snow has melted and such, and I’m so jealous! But, in spite of the snow season lasting so long, I do love Northern Maine and wouldn’t move anywhere else, willingly of course, for the world.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life With Dogs

Isn’t it funny how animals act? Our Brittney Spaniel, Hunter, has been with us for 3 years and he’s proven to be such a smart and loving dog who does a great job guarding our home. Since Hunter has joined our family, he’s developed some shocking behaviors, as well as some unusual ones, too. One shocking behavior is his desire to chew electric cords. That may not seem like such a bad problem, except for the fact that every electric cord he’s chewed has been plugged in! At least 3 of them have been plugged into Hubby’s diesel when the temperature has dropped below freezing, and one has been for the charger for Hubby’s laptop. (Am I the only one seeing a pattern here?) Fortunately, the laptop cord wasn’t chewed through, so we were able to salvage it with plenty of electrical tape. It’s amazing to think that he didn’t get shocked while doing it. Perhaps, he did and enjoyed it. Who knows!

This past November, we gained a new addition to our family, Shelby, our Pomeranian mix (we were told with poodle) joined our family. She’s adorable with her little pointed nose, honey-colored fur, and dark brown eyes, but she’s managed to make her mark as well. She tends to like wood products, specifically paper. Two weeks ago, Hubby came home in the morning to find that Shelby had destroyed an entire phone book. She didn’t just get a few pages here and there. No. She tore every last page into small, itsy, bitsy pieces and shreds. According to Hubby, it was all over the place. What a mess! The phone book hasn’t been her only victim; she’s gotten to one of my books and a newspaper. In fact, today, both Shelby and Hunter apparently got to some bubble gum. The boys told me that Hunter ate a piece. I said that perhaps when he poops or toots he’ll be blowing bubbles. Although they thought that image was hilarious, they seem to think that it will happen in 7 years. I just hope they don't get sick.

Every once in a while Hunter will come up with something new to make us laugh. His latest thing is climbing on a doghouse to see over the snow banks to the neighbors. He’s never done that before, but I caught him today doing just that and couldn’t resist taking a few pictures. He even seemed to pose for me. What a clown and such a character. I’ll tell you one thing, there’s never a dull moment with those two around.

I Believe that I Am...

I gave this writing prompt to my students as a warm up one day and got some great results. As they wrote theirs, this is what I wrote.

I believe that I am wise and strong, with room for improvement. I am capable of doing much more than I could have ever imagined, but sometimes lack the courage and motivation to discover my limitations. I am lazy and a huge procrastinator, but particular about how things get done. I am wise and strong because of my different experiences. I’ve worked different jobs, known different people, and have experienced different hardships and joys. I’ve learned from some experiences and haven’t from others, sometimes still making the same mistakes as before.

I’m more capable than I believe. If I give myself the chance I can prove to myself what my abilities are; I don’t always give myself enough credit. I’ve gone back to school and discovered how smart I really am, receiving the satisfaction of proving this to others, but most importantly to myself. I’ve learned to not listen to what others think of me; it’s what I think of myself that counts.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Sleigh Ride

This afternoon we went riding sleigh with our horses, Jasmine and Golden. They are beautiful Belgians. Actually, Jasmine is a Belgian and Golden is a Belgian mix. Just the same, they are such a sight to see. We loaded them in the trailer and brought them up to the trails we like to use. We did hit one drawback, the sleigh we were going to use was frozen in the ground because of the rain we had since we used it last. It worked out well anyhow because Hubby used his axe to chop the ice away. Once Hubby got the horses harnessed up and hitched to the sleigh, the boys had their sleds already hooked to the back and were ready and waiting. Then we were off!

The boys love sledding behind the sleigh, throwing chunks of snow at each other, throwing themselves off, and dodging the “prizes” that the horses tend to leave behind. It’s so peaceful just sitting behind the horses, listening to their soft “clip clop” in the snow and the crunch of the sleigh rails sliding on the path. Jasmine, who is about 10 years old now, is more experienced with pulling a sleigh, Golden, however, is about 3 years old and is still learning the ropes. I watched as Jasmine’s ears were constantly turned towards us to listen to Hubby’s instructions and praise while Golden’s were more attentive to what was going up ahead of him. He was also skittish today, too. He wanted to change to a gallop and run through the trails and up the hills. Fortunately, Hubby has a commanding voice and knows what to do in these times, so Golden was controlled and we continued to enjoy our ride.

I love to look around at the trees and footprints in the snow. As we began our ride, I saw a large black bird, which I assuming was a crow, flying above us with lichen in his beak. I watched as he landed at the top of a tree. Perhaps he’s sensing that spring is coming and is preparing a nest for his new family. I usually hate crows; their squawking (CAW! CAW!) in the early mornings while I’m trying to sleep, their picking at our garbage left at the side of the road for the weekly pickup, and their boldness when they won’t get out of the road until you’re about to bump them. Yet, I have to admit, they’re pretty intelligent, considering. Watching it fly above with the lichen in his mouth, I felt an appreciation for that crow, no matter how much I dislike its kind.

At the end of our riding, everyone was ready to be done, except for the boys, of course. They could have gone on forever, so it seemed. Even the horses were willing to walk into the trailer without any coaxing. They are so adorable with their green blankets on. The color is a nice contrast to their honey-colored coat and flaxen mane. Jasmine and Golden were ready for a rest, plenty of green hay, and refreshing water. By the time we turned the truck and trailer around to head home, they were already at the barn and eating. They turned to watch us as we drove by. Golden already had a mouthful going. Such a great way to end the weekend.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Today is Friday the 13th. I was born on the thirteenth of the month, and occasionally my birthday will land on a Friday, like this year. Everyone seems to get all worked up about the day. I understand why, but it doesn’t really bother me. Don’t get me wrong, I do remember what day it is throughout the day, but after all is said and done, it ends up being a relatively normal day. Nothing bad, or good for that matter, out of the ordinary ever happens just because it’s Friday the 13th.

According to the Livescience Staff’s article on Yahoo News today, the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia (I’m not even going to try to pronounce this). Even though many may not admit it, lots of people fear this number. Any place where luck is considered important doesn’t even use the number 13. Hospitals don’t use 13 as a room number, tall buildings don’t have a 13th floor, and airports don’t have a 13th terminal. What I find funny is although buildings, hospitals, and airports may number their floors, rooms, and terminals so they skip the number 13, we all know somewhere in the back of our minds that the 14th floor, the 14th hospital room, and the 14th terminal are really the 13th. We try to trick ourselves, and it seems to give people comfort, but does it really change that fact?

How often do we try to trick ourselves in other aspects of our lives? Haven’t we ever tried to trick ourselves into thinking that something was okay because we called it something else, you know, mind over matter. Anyhow, I look at Friday the 13th as a lucky day, just don’t ask me to walk under any ladders or let any black cats cross my path (fortunately I don’t know of any black cats), and better hope that I don’t drop any mirrors! Have a lucky day everyone!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Waiting is over...

This morning, a very special woman passed away. She had a full and eventful life. She raised six children, buried a son in 1970 and her husband in July of 2006. She dealt with Alzheimer's since being diagnosed several years back and slowly lost pieces of herself until the wee hours of this morning when she finally went home. My grandmother, Memere Gagnon, passed away around four this morning. Blandine (Michaud) Gagnon, b. March 31, 1921, d. March 5, 2009. I love you Memere!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"The Rose Beyond the Wall"

Waiting for someone to die is hard. I know it sounds morbid of me to say it this way, but when someone has been sick and suffering, you know that the best for that person is to die. However, wanting what’s best for that person leaves you with side effects; heart-wrenching feelings of guilt and sadness.

My grandmother has had Alzheimer’s for several years now, having been diagnosed late. She also has a form of geriatric leukemia that tends to complicate things for her when she gets sick. I don’t want her to die; she’s my Mémère. But she’s now a shell of who she used to be and it’s painful seeing her suffer, or just knowing that she’s suffering.

She doesn’t remember or recognize anyone anymore, even my mother who’s been with her everyday for the last few years she’s been in a nursing home. She’s now on oxygen, the highest setting, having just dealt with double pneumonia, and is very weak. She's a lifeless body fighting to breathe. She's been given morphine shots off and on throughout the past few days to make her comfortable It's so painful knowing that she's slipping away.

The last time I saw her was at Christmas. She recognized me as belonging to my mom, which was a good thing at this point. She did her usual facial gesture of raising her eyebrows a couple of times to acknowledge you. This is the memory I want to keep in my mind. She was gaunt, but looked better than I've been told she looks now. She hasn’t recognized anyone since Friday and hasn't tried to communicate either.

I also have a cousin who’s almost a year younger than me. She’s been in a semi-comatose state for a couple of weeks now because she’s losing her third fight with cancer. From what I’ve been told, she’s a shell of who she used to be. I hate knowing that she’s suffering so much, as well as her family watching her deteriorate in this way. I want her to die, bluntly put, I know, because I know she’s suffering so much. My cousin is also my grandmother’s granddaughter, too, so we think that perhaps they’re waiting for each other. Our souls are more aware of what our minds perceive.

The last time I saw my cousin, was at my sister’s wedding, nearly three years ago. She was a picture of health and happiness. She and her husband were on top of the world and seemed so happy together. It breaks my heart that her husband, parents, brother and sister, along with their families, are struggling, helplessly watching her die, and will have to eventually go on without her in their lives.

* * * *

I learned since writing this that my cousin has passed away: Tonya Gagne, b. September 1970, d. March 3, 2009 at 5:30 p.m. She was a special lady and everyone who knew her loved her strength and courage.

One of my favorite poems that has always helped me deal with losing a loved one, especially one who has been suffering for a long time, is called, “The Rose Beyond the Wall”, author unknown. I hope it can give you peace some day when you need it most.

The Rose Beyond The Wall

A rose once grew where all could see,
Sheltered beside a garden wall,
And, as the days passed swiftly by,
It spread its branches, straight and tall.

One day, a beam of light shone through
A crevice that had opened wide-
The rose bent gently toward its warmth
Then passed beyond to the other side.

Now, you who deeply feel its loss,
Be comforted - the rose blooms there-
It's beauty even greater now,
Nurtured by God's own loving care.

...Author Unknown