Sunday, August 24, 2014

Summer- It's a Wrap

I did my best to eke out every bit of summer that I could.  I stopped by Jeannie's house in Annapolis on my way home from the beach.  I said yes to a beer and had a sit and chat on her deck with a fabulous view of the Severn River.  When her husband, Chip, invited us for dinner I accepted the invitation so I could stretch the last night of summer out just a little longer.  Lucky for me there were steaks ready to go onto the grill and a bevy of fresh vegetables from an early morning run to the Baltimore Farmer's market.  As if that wasn't enough, there was a selection of Dangerously Delicious Pies for dessert.

As darkness started to fall I knew it was time to climb in the car and accept that summer was over for this teacher.  Lucky me, I got treated to one last surprise- a fireworks display from somewhere over DC as I headed west on Route 50 to make my way home.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Missing My Friend

I wrote, with pleasure, about TimeHop a few weeks ago.  Recently, I've been introduced to the downside of looking back.

A few days ago I opened my TimeHop post to see pictures of a trip I took to Chicago four years ago. Although the pictures and the trip were fabulous I was taken aback to see my friend Debbie smiling into the camera.  In some ways our trip to Chicago seems like it was a very long time ago, in other ways it seems like it was just yesterday.

I found that looking back on that trip, and thinking of Debbie, made me sad.  I suppose the memories weighed heavily on my mind when I went to sleep last night.  As my mind wandered in sleep mode I found myself dreaming of a meet-up with Debbie.  In my dream I watched as she walked into our workplace like she'd never left this world.  The weird thing was that I was the only person who saw her.  She seemed unaware of the fact that she was no longer among the living and although I knew it was strange that I was the only one who saw her I enjoyed the time we had together in my dream.

I woke up late this morning.  Even though I knew I was only dreaming when I saw Debbie I enjoyed our time together in my subconscious.  It was the one dream I did not want to wake up from.

I miss my friend.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Key Card Lunch

I went to lunch with some friends in Annapolis today.  There's nothing so remarkable about that.  I mean I go out to lunch all the time.  I go to Annapolis quite a bit and I've had plenty of lunches and dinners there.  Today's lunch was a little more interesting because we went to the Fleet Reserve club downtown.  This was the kind of club where you had to have a key card to get in the front door. Fortunately, we had one since Chip is a former Navy guy.

After we used our special gold card to get us in the front door we stopped at the sign-in book and put our names on the dotted line.  From there we walked through the dark-wood bar and out onto the patio. There was a table right in front with a fabulous view of all the boats cruising down Ego Alley.

It wasn't as sunny as it could have been, but the food was good, the beer was cold and the company was lovely.  We're so fancy.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Cycle of Stuff

Today's trunk load of donations to Goodwill can only mean that I have pretty much completed my summer clean-out.  Tomorrow I can head to the beach knowing that my house is a lighter than it was 62 days ago. The feeling of less is a good one.

Now I have an entire school year to accumulate more stuff.  And so the cycle begins again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why Shop When You Can Eat Less?

After cleaning out my closet I can say I  would have quite the wardrobe if I lost those few pounds I mysteriously put on over the last few years.
Here's to tracking calories and hitting the gym a little more!  It's definitely cheaper than buying more clothes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Inspection, Scrutiny and Final Fate

As far as my summer project of cleaning out my house goes, I've left the best for last.  Tomorrow I will take everything out of my clothes closet and separate what's in there into three piles.  Each item of clothing will be scrutinized and inspected.  In the end there are three possible fates:  stay, go, or storage.
Shoes must suffer the same scrutiny.

It could be an emotional day, but in the end I think the final outcome will benefit all.

Monday, August 18, 2014


The beginning of the year can be pretty overwhelming.  In-service week usually consists of one meeting after another so I decided to head into my classroom today and start getting things set up.  I actually went in one day last week but lacked the motivation to accomplish much.  Today I cued up a little 70s music on Pandora and happily pulled things out of the closet while singing along to Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles.

There was no one else working in my area so I had nothing but quiet to keep me focused on the task at hand.  The only real interruption came when I noticed that the new teachers were coming into the building after a morning of orientation.  I took a moment to watch out my window as three or four cars pulled up.  One teacher slid slowly out of her Honda Civic after checking herself in the mirror.  She stood outside of her car door and brushed the lint and wrinkles from her black pants.  She was stalling- believe me, I know what that looks like.  Twenty seconds later she took a deep breath and walked confidently toward the door.

I took a moment to study her face.  I want to be sure to remember who she is so I can welcome her when we all return next week.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


And to wrap up the whole party theme... what do you give the man who has everything?  My writing friends will be happy to hear that we decided on the gift of writing.  I'd like to take credit for the idea but can't do so since my sister came up with the idea.

There were a lot of busy writers last Friday night and Saturday.  Mark and his three kids were spread out at the table on the back patio with sheets of paper, pencils and crayons.  Megan was 300 miles away at college working on the letter she would email in before the party.  Michael was in his bedroom working on putting his thoughts together.  Me?  Mine was still in my head, but I knew it would come together before the deadline because that's how we writing procrastinators work the best.

At about 8:00 last night the family lined up, from youngest to oldest, in a sort of receiving line.  One by one we wished my dad a happy birthday and handed him our gift of words.

Today he told me it was one of the best days of his life, so I guess we did okay on the present thing.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Play All Day, Sleep Well Tonight

It was nothing but blue skies and cool breezes all day today as we celebrated my dad's birthday at a cabin near the Susquehanna River.  There was swimming, boating of all sorts and a whole bunch of free time.  There was no wifi or tv so we entertained ourselves in the old-school ways of conversation and games. There was fun for every age- from 5 to 80.  At the end of the day there was cake and a nice fire in the outdoor fireplace.  

I'm certain everyone will sleep well tonight.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Big Day

Even though August 25th is the actual day, we will celebrate my dad's 80th birthday tomorrow.  The entire family- my mom, two brothers, one sister and a collection of nieces and nephews are all together to recognize the big day.

80 is a remarkable accomplishment for anyone, but a bit more remarkable for my dad and his seemingly endless array of heart issues.

When I think of all my close friends I can only count a few who still have both parents still living.  Of those who do even fewer can say their parents are still together.

So, yes it's a big day.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Small Steps

I find it's best to take the whole back to work thing one small step at a time.  Today was baby step number one.  I hauled two bags of school related stuff I cleaned out of my spare room to my classroom.

An empty classroom can be an overwhelming kind of place.  Twenty-one years later I still remember the mini panic attack I had when I walked into my very first empty classroom.  If memory serves me correctly- and in this case I think it does- I muttered something like what the hell am I doing here?

Honestly, there are a few of those thoughts still in me whenever I walk into my empty classroom at the end of the summer.  Just like I did 21 years ago I push that uncertainty to the side, open up my closet that is stacked with the things that make the classroom my own, roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Minor progress was made today-but it's a start.  I'll be back next week to take a few more steps forward before I have to dive all in on August 25.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Time's a Ticking

When I awoke this morning and saw that it was after 9:00 I knew my summer vacation was almost over.  It takes me some time to get into the groove of sleeping late.  Nine weeks ago sleeping until 7:00 was a joy. By three weeks ago my wake up time had inched forward to about 8:00.  And now here I am, rolling out of bed at 9:00 like I'm some sort of retired person.

I have about 10 more mornings that don't require any sort of alarm clock.  Yes, I know I should be getting back into the groove of the early wake-up call.  Certainly I should try to start adjusting my wake up time, 15 minutes at a time, so that first blare of the alarm at 5:30 won't be such a shocker.

Yup.  Maybe I'll start that next week.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sleepy Time

It's hard to understand why anyone would call what I went through last night a sleep study.  Meaning it's rather difficult to study anyone while they sleep when so much is done to keep them from sleeping.

Let me explain.  I wrote about the snoring problem last week so there's no need to go back to that. Once my class 3 mouth was identified a sleep study seemed like the next logical step to make sure I don't have sleep apnea- something that my father suffers from.

I showed up at the sleep study center at about 9:45 last nigh in a comfortable pair of exercise shorts and a t-shirt.  In hardly any time at all a staff member had me connected to about 24 different wires.  The connections would be used to monitor everything from my leg movements to my brain activity.  The same staff member that wired me up would watch and listen from another room.  All I had to do was sleep.

Yeah, that's definitely easier said than done.  I did my best to get comfortable.  That was difficult seeing as there were so many wires.  In the back of my mind I wondered if it was possible to strangle myself while sleeping.  At least I knew my technician, Oscar, was there to rescue me if needed.

I read for about 25 minutes, turned out the light, closed my eyes and did my best summon slumber.  It didn't come, but then again why would it?  I could hear the buzzing of fluorescent lights from outside my door.  I wanted to roll over and find a more comfortable position but the tugging of all the wires stopped me.   Before long there was a gentle knock at the door.  It was Oscar to let me know that something had come unplugged.

I read some more- until about midnight -when I tried, once again, to fall asleep.

Over the years I've suffered through a few sleepless nights.  I've found it best to keep my eyes softly shut and count- not sheep, just numbers.  So I counted.  And counted. And counted some more.

Eventually sleep came- sort of.  It was a restless sleep, full of starts and stops but I made it through the night without dislodging any more wires.

At about 5:00am Oscar was back with a wake-up call.  By 5:20 I was completely unplugged from all the sensors, on my way home and back to bed after a quick shower to clean out the sticky paste needed to adhere the sensors to my head.

I awoke at about 8:00 to a rainy, gloomy day- the perfect kind of day for napping.

Monday, August 11, 2014


My confidence level was on the rise after a successful project-filled weekend.  After taking a moment to admire my newly painted chairs I decided to tackle the CD that was stuck in my car audio system.  It didn’t take too long to remove the entire dashboard unit- it was nothing more than 8 screws that needed to be taken out.  Feeling good I brought the unit inside to investigate the inner workings under the light of my dining room. 

More tiny screws were removed, as were all of the CDs.  

All was well until the springs started springing.  

I now have a few small silver springs, even more tiny screws and one rather large piece from the unit sitting on my dining room table.  I have no idea where that mysterious large piece came from and how to put it all back together again.

Time to call an expert.

Ching-cha-ching.  But at least I saved money on removing the unit myself.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Weekend Projects

It was a big project weekend over here.  I sanded and painted the two adirondack chairs and side table that sit on my brick patio.  The chair project took yesterday and today to complete as I wanted to be sure to put on two coats of paint and needed the chairs to dry between each coat.  Once they were dry this afternoon I swept and cleaned up the patio so the shiny new chairs could look their very best.  The set was way overdue for an updated finish last summer it was rewarding to finally see the finished product this afternoon.

While I was waiting for paint to dry I took on a little redecorating project in my living room.  I've never been one to have the same furniture arrangement for very long, so I decided to rearrange the couch, chair and television.  The latest layout is one that I used when I first moved in 14 years ago.

Tonight I find there's a wee bit of soreness in my body.  I suppose all that sanding, painting, and furniture pushing woke up a few muscles.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


I spent close to three hours in a darkened movie theater this evening watching a young boy grow up. The movie was Boyhood. I've heard a lot of chatter about the film.  A few people, whose opinions I respect, told me how much they loved the movie.  I was certainly interested in the premise of making a movie over the span of 12 years that allows the audience to witness the growth of the main character, Mason.

Unfortunately, that initial interest didn't last me until the end of the movie 164 minutes later.

I don't have anything bad to say about the movie. But then again, I've got nothing good to say either.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Small Town Afternoon

Although I have, in the recent past, complained about the way my little town has grown I find that I am still able to have small town experiences now and then.  I am still able to pick up my prescriptions at the local Safeway without ever having to give anyone my last name.  The bagger at the Giant always says hello to me when he sees me and the Jordanian owner of a small pizza place nearby greets me like a family member whenever I stop in- even if it's been over a year since my last visit.

This afternoon, after borrowing a hand sander from a friend who lives nearby, I headed over to the Apple store in Clarendon.  As I drove up a side street I recognized a friend and former colleague sitting in front of her son's bakery.  Much to the annoyance of the driver behind me I stopped the car to say hello.

Linda greeted me with a big "Hey Mary!  What are you doing?"

I told her about my errand at the Apple store and assured her I'd be back to visit.

Before long I was back at the bakery.  I walked in to a warm welcome from Linda's son, the owner.

"Hey!  How are you?  Haven't seen you in awhile!" came the call from the corner table where Josh was going over some paperwork with a friend.

Linda made her way to the front and told me about the Key Lime Pies she was getting ready to make. We talked about the book we're reading for our book club and she caught me up on the former students and their families who had come by to visit her.

I sat with her and chatted for about 20 minutes and noted that she knew almost every customer that came in.

Before too long I was on my way, happily heading back to my car with a free sample in my hand.

That free sample?  It was something called a "Brookie," which is a brownie-like cookie.

Yea- it was fabulous.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Losing Patience

I've been dealing with this "eye thing" since early April.  The cysts that appeared out of nowhere on my upper and lower eyelids are called Chalazions.  According to they occur when the narrow opening through which a meibomian gland secretes its material can become clogged from narrowing of the opening or hardening of the sebaceous liquid near the opening.  If this occurs, the gland will have a backup of the material it secretes and the obstructed gland will swell.  This leads to thickening of the walls of the gland and leakage of oil into the lid itself, causing inflammation both within the gland and the eyelid itself.

This kind of thing happens to people who suffer from blepharitis and allergies.  Lucky me, I suffer from both.

These Chalazions- I've had 6 cut from my eyelids in the past 3 months- are stubborn.  Everything I've read online has said they can go away as suddenly as they appeared.  I'm hoping that today's incisions and a new round of medication does the trick this time around because I've simply had enough of the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hi Mom!

Before I said goodbye to my mom this morning she remarked, "I really like reading your Scattered Thoughts, Mary."

"Did you see I wrote about your garden?" I asked.

Yes she did and she didn't really like that entry so much.

No worries, Mom.  In the end you got the last laugh, because those beautiful tomatoes I picked from your weedy garden were left on the counter at Jeen's house.

I had to buy my own tomato for dinner tonight.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hiding Among The Weeds

My mother's tomato plants barely tower above the weeds that need to be pulled in her garden.  From a distance it looked like the weeds had just about taken over every inch of space,  but once I stepped up a little closer I could see quite a few red growths on the scraggly tomato plants.

The garden bed, she wasn't pretty, but the tomatoes look pretty darn good.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Feels Like Home

My little neighborhood is quite lovely.  Well, that's my opinion.  You see, as I drive around Arlington these days I find it hard to believe all of the changes that have taken place.  Last week I met an old friend and longtime Arlington resident for dinner.  As we talked about the detour that we ran into on our way to the restaurant we discussed how different everything looks.  Arlington just doesn't look like the Arlington we used to know.

Parkfairfax, the historic area where I live, is hardly a mile from the ever-changing Arlington.  Even with its close proximity to such a fluid area of development this neighborhood has stayed pretty much the same since it was first built, at the request of President Franklin Roosevelt, in 1942.

The over 200 buildings that are scattered over 132 acres are all brick structures.  Large trees provide plenty of shade for residents that enjoy getting out on a warm summer day.  It's a dog friendly kind of place.  In fact, I know of two dogs that stop at a neighbor's house every day knowing she'll be there to greet them with a special treat.  Cats are welcome too- and there are plenty of critters for them to catch if they enjoy the hunt.

The last 72 years have seen a lot of people come and go in the area.  Some, like Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, went on to bigger homes and jobs.  Others- people I know- left only to return to the area later on.  One neighbor told me she came back because this place always felt like home. 


Sunday, August 3, 2014

One and a Half Stars

I went to see "Get On Up" today.  It's biographical movie detailing the life of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. 

Detailing might not be the best word because I walked away from the movie realizing that, although I never knew much about James Brown, I didn't know all that much more after spending over two hours in a theater.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pedalling Progress

We citizens of the DC area were treated to yet one more day of seasonably low humidity I headed out on my bike for a quick ride.  It was only a week that I wrote about my frustration as I watched rider after rider pass me by.

What a difference a week, and an-iron rich diet, makes.

Although there were a few cyclists that passed me but I did my share of passing as well. The best part of the ride came right at the end when I realized how steady my breathing was as I pedaled myself uphill the last mile back to my house.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock

Seeing August 1 on the calendar makes this teacher just a wee-bit anxious.  By now I've really grown accustomed to the slower days of summer.  I've been able to catch up on medical appointments, exercise, clean and enjoy a few trips out of town.

It feels like time speeds up once August hits so I'm about to get more focused on sorting through my stuff and cleaning the upstairs of my house.  Also, there's a basket of summer work projects that I brought home from school at the end of June.  Yup, it's time to take a look-see at what's going on in there.