It was a mild day so I started putting up some holiday lights. The pine cone lights ive been using out front the last few years were not firing (all three strands were dark which is really weird) but I was able to improvise. I already made one decoration purchase (hanging snowflakes) and I’m not making any more per belt tightening.

dusky walk

Glad Michael and Rumor got me out today. After doing some “turkey trotting” yesterday, we committed to lacing up today. The weather has been mild and it’s a 4 day weekend. We are exhaling.

I slept in, so Michael proposed a late afternoon outing to leave space for chores and projects. I’m glad we waited. We started with the tail end of sunset from at the western end of the Bloomingdale Trail, rambled east for a bit, as the main source of illumination slowly shifted from sky to lights along the trail, and then headed back west into the encore sunset.

another quasi arbitrary reset

It’s 1am on Thanksgiving and since I am up, I’m gonna knock my daily writing task off the to do list.

Four weeks until the solstice. I really want to end this year of writing and hang wringing feeling like I have done more than pass through the days. This had not been the year for making much of a difference to others. Nothing to brag about in an end of year letter (not that we hew to that genre). It’s mostly internal work and that’s fine but I want to be done with this major tune up and hit the road hard next year. I’m frustrated and even a little bored… and I am never bored. Tired of grappling with the same stuff. I know I’m in better mental and emotional shape than I was this time last year and that’s saying something considering what’s been going on. So, I’m trying to be patient and compassionate. But I desperately want to do all the things I know I am capable of.

I think I need to return to “Do or do not. There is no try.”


When I catch the clock at 11:11, I gear up to make a wish, but then I get so tangled up in what ifs and disclaimers, like I’m crafting a release of liability form, that it’s 11:12 before I settle on how to parse the wish.

And now it’s 11:15. I tentatively wished to feel like I have a sense of purpose.Lots of loopholes and possible dangers there. Ah well.

Bought an electric shawl today. Early Christmas present. Who knows. I suspect we will make the 60 bucks back pretty quickly in savings from me not turning up the heat for this entire three flat when I’m working from home, the only one in 4200 square feet. Well, there’s Rumor too, but she hasn’t complained about the temperature.

Today I did most of the things I said I was going to do. it was a modest list but still…it’s progress I guess.

Cried when I stepped into Macy’s from the pedway. It’s the day before Thanksgiving, and I am missing my kid. Missing buying licorice jelly beans from the candy counter that’s so high I can’t read the credit card reader perched on its sloping the edge. Walking by the toys and children’s books, aching for do-overs. Turning away from the ornaments. Now is not the time to spend money and who knows what Christmas will look like anyway. I usually get one for each of us. Perhaps this year it’s particularly important to keep that tradition alive.

broken grocery bag

Sitting in my usual spot, feeling the usual feelings though I also have a hint of a headache.

Michael and I have been passing these dark evenings watching Veep which we are on the fence about.

Today I wrote something for work about the Fountain of Time. Brought up memories of the Time for Poetry project from when I was at Mitchell School. Didn’t make me nostalgic per se but I did feel a sense of pride. I miss being in the thick of something. With distance, I am able to see that I made a difference for my own students and the teachers I worked with. Looking at the pictures of our Young Authors (wow, haven’t thought of that label in awhile), I see more best practices than pandemonium. Granted, that’s when I was most likely to grab my camera, but it’s a reminder that my teaching journeys were not the dumpster fires I sometimes make them out to be. Were there flat tires, potholes and missed turns? Yes and what I wish I had understood then, what I am still trying to understand, is that it was all par for the course. I knew it intellectually, but my heart took the bumps hard.

But even if my real and perceived failure tolerance had been better, even though I was fine and sometimes even great, I still don’t think I could have made my brain work in ways requires to survive let alone thrive as a traditional classroom teacher.

I’ve written about that plenty and I’m sure I’ll keep writing about it until one day I can tie it all up in a bow.

Right now I feel like I’m a grocery bag, the brown paper kind, that ripped and the oranges are rolling away and the bottle of vinegar has shattered, and the bread is being eyed by pigeons. How do I bundle all these past experiences together? To feel some kind of whole?

the cost of dinner

Woke up to an NPR piece about how inflation is affecting the Thanksgiving table. The reporters took on the challenge of producing a meal using a 2020 budget. Spoiler alert: substitutions ranged from yuck (something about using baby food as part of a butter substitute) to whimsical (substituting bacon for the turkey).

It was useful to learn about items that have not seen significant increases such as mushrooms (used for their gravy) and sweet potatoes (elbowed out pumpkin for the pie honors).

Because we are only cooking for two right now, the food inflation doesn’t hit us as hard as big families. Plus we have had the luxury to buy staples in bulk (the bitter irony of needing money to save money).

So I had not bought vegetable oil from our local store in awhile. I did a double take when I got to the aisle. $8 for a medium size bottle. I found something cheaper on a lower shelf, but still. I’ll be using a judicious hand when heating up the skillet tonight. Thankfully we are good on olive oil for awhile.

battening down the hatches

It’s been awhile since I’ve poked at words and idioms but after settling on the title for this post, I realized I didn’t know it’s literal meaning.

I always thought it had to with closing window shutters against a storm, which upon reflection doesn’t make a lot of sense as windows are not called hatches. I associate the word batting with insulation, as it’s the inner layer of quilts. So this sewing, landlubber always pictured someone going around a house, securing the window shutters, and shoving something soft around the edges to improve the seal.

I was too far off. The phrase comes from the sea. When foul weather threatened, sailors would cover the hatches in the deck with tarp, and secure the sides with wood pieces called battens. I guess I should look that word up too.

So looks like it emerged from baton (French) which harkens back to Latin for to beat.

Anyhoo, the temp plummeted yesterday and our front windows remain rickety. We have replaced all the side and back windows of our almost 100 year old building but haven’t had the heart or the money to do the ones in the front (21 windows total!)

And so, today we dug out the weatherstripping and plastic. I worked on making sure the storm windows are in place, and sealing as many gaps as I could reach using mostly foam and duct tape. Did the same with the windows. Covered the hole where the rusty chains comes out. Fortified the edges until nothing rattled. And now Michael is putting up plastic. A tortuous job. I feat Rumor is going to rip right through it. She broke our front window early in her life here. We shall see.


with insulation

no golden glove awards for me

I like sports analogies when it comes to perfectionism. A batting average of .333 is amazing which means you still whiff 2/3rds of the time. You can’t make a basket you don’t shoot for and so forth.

But analogies have limits, and most jobs do require a much higher rate of making contact with goals. Not everything needs to be a home run, but you gotta stay on the bases.

Hmm. Just realized we have different standards for offensive and defensive lapses (only talking about baseball here as it’s the only sport I know and even then mostly in a poetic sense). If an outfielder routinely dropped 2 of 3 balls, he’d be turning his uniform in.

When is it ok to make mistakes? How many, what kind? Of course it’s context dependent, but when coming from a perfectionist baseline, where any mistake calls for the smelling salts… this is all unfamiliar territory.

I always feel wierd writing about perfectionism bc I am not some kind of virtuoso (sp?) and I have never been horrifically upbraided or denigrated for making mistakes. I picked up this baggage in other ways. Regardless, I remain committed to lightening the load.

Which is why I did not implode with shame when things did not go as planned during an online meeting I was leading tonight. It’s one thing for me to fumble something I’m not good at. But I’ve been promoting myself as a big league facilitator, presenter, listener (I used to do public involvement *and* I was a teacher! A double stuffed oreo of meeting prowess!)

I was almost grateful when all the very thoughtful notes folks had posted to the Jamboard disappeared bc I had been struggling to leverage the volume of text folks had shared into a thoughtful, interactive conversation. When we pivoted to “just” having a conversation, I think things ultimately worked out pretty well. I wasn’t a golden glover, but with the help of my teammates, I don’t think I stunk up the field either.

I am reflecting on the difference between in person and virtual meetings/workshops and how, even with two years of online teaching under my belt, I haven’t found my groove when stuck in a screen instead of sweeping around a room.

Old me would have spent tonight in a cycle of self flagellation and shame (something else came up that I dropped a ball on so I was particularly vulnerable to that spiral). But I know I worked hard, did my best, took responsibility for lapses. I didn’t ruin anyone’s life or destroy the organization. I am human. It’s OK to whiff sometimes.