Life: Three and a Half Weeks at a Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome people consider me to a bit unusual. No one who reads my blog, of course, but people who have to actually put up with me on a day-to-day basis.

Anyway, I was driving home last night at the conclusion of my Transition Friday, and I got to thinking about numbers–specifically numbers of days and how many days I’ve been in different spots and how many days are ahead in certain spots. And I came to an interesting discovery regarding the magical number — three and a half.

Now I realize, most of you may not think of a number with a half added to it as magical, but you can just humor my love of patterns that emerge in life without any manipulation on our part. I mean if you have to manipulate numbers to make them come up with cool patterns, then what’s the point? But ok, I could do whole numbers and just use the number of 24, but I ask you, does 24 sound as magical as 3 1/2?

So brace yourselves, I’m going to take you on a journey of the inner workings of my pattern-seeking brain. It’s not too late to run away.

Oh! You’re still here? (And people think I’m strange and unususal.)

Check out these dates:

November 21 – December 15 (24 days)

December 15 – January 8 (24 days)

January 8 – February 1 (24 days)

They each represent 24 days (or 3 1/2 weeks). And each of those blocks of time represents something fairly significant in terms of the location where I’m spending my time. Regular followers know about two of them, and they may even suspect the third one, but here’s the quick run-down.

November 21 – December 15 (24 days)

November 21 was moving day! Well, the first of a few. But it was the day I got into the house I am living in now after staying with my parents since my return from Taiwan at the end of July.

November 21 was the day I picked up Yumi from the airport, stopped at the grocery store to get us some food, and then drove here to unload stuff and fix dinner for our first evening in the new house. She stayed with me for eight days.

The next 16 days involved me getting through the rest of the semester and doing some tutoring. I left the house on the 15th.

December 15 – January 8 (24 days)

On December 15, I headed to my friend Susan’s house and spent the night, so that I could catch an early flight to Iowa on the 16th. Spent 22 glorious days with my husband. Flew back on the 7th of January and spent the night at Susan’s again. I ran errands for a fair amount of Friday, and got back here last night on the 8th.

So, after spending 24 days or 3 1/2 weeks, in the new place, I then spent the same amount of time away.

January 8 – February 1 (24 days)

random numbersJanuary 8 was my first full day back in Michigan. And after working at the coffee shop, helping a colleague with computer stuff, visiting my daughter, making music arrangements for later in the month, and verifying next week’s tutoring schedule, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from my daughter’s house. That’s when I realized that 24 days from then, it would be February 1, the potential target date for moving into the new place with Dave’s arrival within a couple of days (depending on how things go). But regardless of his arrival date, the lease is likely to begin on February 1 — another 3 1/2 week block of time.

After that, I’m willing to stay in one place for a while. Three blocks of 24 days is enough, but it was kind of interesting to see the pattern of time spent in this house, out of this house, back in this house, until I leave again–more permanently. And I will admit that part of the reason I was thinking about all of this is I got a little disoriented last night unloading the van in the dark and finding my way around the house. That’s when it really hit me. I’d been away from this place as long as I’d been in it, and 24 days isn’t much time to really start to feel like it’s home. But I’m here, and for the next 3 1/2 weeks or 24 days, I’m going to make the most of it.

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This post is for JusJoJan, Day 9.

Transition Friday with a BIG Dose of Good News

library coffee shop 004I flew in from Iowa last night and landed in Michigan at 11:15 pm. My friend Susan picked me up at the airport and brought me to her house where my van had been parked while I was gone. Three weeks ago, I spent the night at Susan’s place before we headed out early for the trip to the airport, and last night, I again spent the night there before heading out this morning back in the direction of my current residence.

However, since there was a fair amount of distance to cover, along with errands (like groceries and a potential visit to my daughter’s), I planned a leisurely route that would get things accomplished and get me home by evening–a day of transitioning from my time in Iowa to my life back in Michigan. This plan was workable largely because my classes don’t start until next week, and my private tutoring also got put on hold until then as well.

The plan had been to visit my daughter around lunch time, and I planned to stop somewhere along the way (about a 55 miles driver to her place) to have coffee and finish the revisions on my co-authored paper which is due Monday.

I decided to stop at a coffee shop that I’ve visited many times in the past, but not since my return to the US in late July. Today was the perfect day for it. I ordered a latte and a muffin and settled in to work on what I hope is the next to the last time I have to look at this paper.  😉 While I was working, my phone rang. It was one of the faculty from the university where I work. She was frustrated trying to put her course materials on our online platform, so I arranged to stop by before going to my daughter’s.

This colleague is the same one who is letting me stay in the house that they are planning to put on the market in the spring. But there has been something happening in the background. They also have a rental house that happened to become available around Thanksgiving. But they were trying to decide whether to rent it again (after a frustrating broken lease) or to just put it on the market again.

In a bit of a joke, she said, “too bad we didn’t know. That would be an even better location for you.” (Although at the time I moved here, I hadn’t started the tutoring yet, and my income was still a little iffy to take on rent.) But right before Christmas, she sent me an email and asked me if we were serious about it. Dave and I talked about it and of course, we were interested, but we were concerned about how much rent we could afford at least until he got here and we knew more about what we could expect as regular income. At our ages, we aren’t fooling ourselves about finding full-time jobs, but we’re both good at cobbling things together to create income.

So, I responded to the email, saying yes, we’d be interested if we could work something out rent-wise. Then we didn’t hear anything. I sent another email a couple of days ago, but no answer as of yet.

But after working on her course stuff, she brought up the house again. I gave her the timeline Dave and I were looking at, and she said she was willing to work out a rent that just covered their expenses plus a bit–and not a big bit. The end result was $20 less than my best hope for what we could get. I was delighted. Even if Dave didn’t get a job for a while, I could manage it if we cut our spending to not much.

Dave was planning to get a small truck to bring back a few of the pieces of furniture his sister doesn’t want–things we didn’t give to Salvation Army because they are things that we could use to reestablish a household again. And it looks like we’re going to have a place to put those things, and we can set up the lease on the new place to coincide with his arrival with the truck. We are quite excited!

I also got a call for doing three weekends work of music at then end of January and the first two weeks of February, so it was a rather awesome day. And I still got to see my daughter and spend time with her.

And a bonus? I will be able to move my piano out of my brothers’ house into my own place. A darn good day, I’d say!  🙂

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This post is part of JusJoJan

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Three Things Thursday: The New Year

three-things-thursday-widget-badgeI’ve had a lovely three weeks with my husband and his sister here in Iowa. That makes me smile, even though getting on the plane to head back to Michigan does not. Well, that’s not entirely true. I am looking forward to getting back and seeing my daughter and grandson and my parents. I am even looking forward to getting started with the new semester and meeting my new students. So even though it will be hard to leave David behind, I can smile about all the great memories from our time together.

On a related note, the second thing that makes me smile is that I got to play a part in helping the sorting and de-cluttering process here at his sister’s house. Yesterday was the day Salvation Army came to pick up the first load of stuff that she’s been wanting to get rid of. With all the furniture from the basement and the bags of clothes, and the stuffed animals, and boxes of video tapes, they pretty much filled the van. Whether or not she ultimately moves is immaterial; the place is now beginning to become more her own. After Salvation Army left, Dave and I wrestled the sofa from downstairs up to the living room. With the bulky furniture out, and the streamlined versions in, we got to surprise her when she came home from work. Well, she knew that Salvation Army was coming, and she had told us what she wanted to go and about wanting the sofa brought up, but while we were the ones making it happen step-by-step, she was able to come home and just see the results. I couldn’t wait! And the smile on her face was worth all the little aches and pains we felt this morning.

The third smile is that because of #2 above, we have shaved some time off of how long Dave will need to stay in Iowa. Dave will still need to have Salvation Army back one more time (I know it’s hard to believe with everything that went yesterday), but he aims to get that done next week. But with any luck, he’ll be home by mid-February or even sooner! And that’s definitely something to smile about!

This post is part of JusJoJan and Three Things Thursday.

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unbucket list

What a great approach to the new year and to life in general! Check it out! 🙂

rhymeswithbug

I will not make a buck-
et list
all things I’d like to do
someday

then tick them off
one by one
until my bucket’s
empty and I am left

instead I will drop some-
thing into my bucket
each day
a kind deed, an adventure

with a four year-old,
a trip, a concert, an un-
expected email,
lunch with a friend

oh, I’m sure there will be big
surprises in my bucket too
and when I reach the end
of this life

I will spill out all the
wonders my bucket
holds, smiling in
gratitude for my full bucket

——

Just Jot It January – bucket list

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Wildlife Wednesday: More Taiwanese Wildlife

For last month’s Wildlife Wednesday, I posted the last of my wildlife photos from Taiwan. When I did, I also asked my friends and former students to consider sending me some of their photos of Taiwan’s wildlife, and Fu-Ting, a student in my Advanced English course last year, came through for me. So today, I have some photos of her sister, Ying-Ting (English name, Linda) and a few photos of wildlife they observed in Miaoli, which is a city not too far from Taoyuan, where I lived while in Taiwan.

There are four creatures here, and I’ve arranged them in order of creep factor. So we’ll start out with two creatures that are pretty safe, and I’ll offer warnings before we head into places some of you may not want to go.

I don’t know official names for the creatures here (other than Fu-Ting’s sister), but our first one is a cute little amphibian they snapped in the water.

 Futing 1

Next up, we have a praying mantis or two. Though in this first picture, you have to look for it. Good camouflage. HINT: A praying mantis can change from green to brown, depending on its surroundings.

futing 5

Here’s Cindy with a lovely green specimen.  🙂 To be honest, I don’t know if it’s the same one as above or not. Since the praying mantis can change color, it’s possible these are two photos of the same praying mantis. I could ask Fu-Ting if you really want to know.  😉

Futing 6

If you’re not a spider person, you might want to stop here. But it’s hard not be in awe of this little guy. Not much to look at in terms of flash, but what lovely structure and you’ve got to love those legs.

Futing 4

Our last critter might be considered by some to be the creepiest of the bunch. But notice, Linda thinks it’s pretty cool!  🙂 So if you’re squeamish about crabs, you need to stop now. Especially, if you get creeped out about someone holding one. But hey, it’s a small one! 🙂

 

Futing 3

And now for a close-up of this little guy!  🙂

Futing 2

I hope you enjoyed a few more specimens from Taiwan’s wildlife. I’d like to thank Fu-Ting (who I suspect stays behind the camera instead of getting up close and personal with these things); her sister, Ying-Ting, for showing us such a great variety of wildlife; and Tina at My Gardener Says for hosting Wildlife Wednesday.

 

Discernment: One-Liner Wednesday

dance with Doug

Discernment is a dance of knowing when to tap loudly across a stage in charisma and when to soft step a delicate ballet across the ice that only comes with the experience of trial and error. 

–Lisa

This week’s quote comes from Lisa at Underground Energy.

 

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This post is part of One-Liner Wednesday and is my post for Day 6 of JusJoJan.

 

To or Not To Tuesday: Week 10

jjj-2016It’s Tuesday, and for me, that means it’s time for another To or Not To Tuesday, in which I pose a question about something I may or may not do, and then spend a paragraph or five talking through the decision that becomes obvious by the end of the post. The irony, of course, is that there is really no decision to be made, once everything is out on the WordPress table.

Well, this is week ten, and aside from a few awesome people who have made comments about what they may or may not do, and one reblog (thanks, Linda), my idea about posing To Do or Not To Do questions didn’t seem to catch fire. Which leads to this week’s question:

So for Week 10, the To or Not to Tuesday question is To Continue or Not Continue the To or Not to Tuesday.

I don’t think very many paragraphs are needed for this one. I had fun. I explored some ideas that I might otherwise just have mulled about without actually processing them. But with my theme for the new year: “make peace with your broken pieces” and my word for the year: direction, I think I can move through the process of finding my inner wisdom with much better filters, and that I don’t really need this weekly post anymore. Besides, I never had a banner for it. (Hey maybe! To or Not To Make a . . . . oh never mind!)  😉

Thanks to everyone who visited those posts. I appreciated your input on my mythical dilemmas. And I guess we’ll see what crazy things I come up with in 2016.

This post is for day 5 of JusJoJan.

A Focus for the New Year: #oneword2016

scarebothwaysIn the past I’ve used seasonal keywords, and they’ve worked rather well for me. But I didn’t keep up with it for more than a year’s worth of seasons. So when I first saw this idea of a single word for the whole year, I wasn’t sure that I could think of one word to encompass a whole year. After all, my choice of seasonal keywords seemed difficult enough.

But as 2015 came to a close and people were posting their #oneword 2016s, I realized that it was a good year for me to try it, too. At first, I was tempted to use the word no,” as I’ve seen a few others have done. As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to get really caught up in saying yes to anything that catches my interest, which is often more about someone else’s goal than my own. Another word I thought about was moratorium,” a word I acted on as a new year’s “non” resolution for 2013 in an attempt to keep myself from taking on too many new things.

But I realized that both of those words are driven largely by symptoms (doing too much, often without much discernment) and that they ignore the root cause — no yardstick to really measure the value of possibilities on my long-term goals.

I’ve accomplished quite a bit, but not by design. I jump into all kinds of opportunities as they’re presented, and I make the best of them, even if they sometimes have higher costs than I had anticipated. I don’t have many regrets, but life isn’t endless, and if I’m going to accomplish what I really want to do, I need to figure out what I really want to do.

I feel like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz when it comes to knowing which way to go with the time I have left. While wandering and going with the flow and being spontaneous has served me well in many regards, it is, as time to find a star to hitch my wagon to. So my word for 2016 is:

DIRECTION

It doesn’t need to necessarily be about my direction for the rest of my life, though that would be a huge bonus, but for now, I’ll settle for having something concrete to strive for this year. Rather than just being busy and accomplishing things while I do, I want to have a destination, a measure of how I will determine whether or not I’ve met my goal.

I will start by using January to explore possibilities. By the 31st, I hope to have an idea or two about which direction I will take. I will also be finishing up a couple of projects that have completion dates in January, so that I will free up time and focus so that I am ready to head in the right direction and use that as a guide for the way I spend my time and energy in the coming year. Who knows what I’ll find along the yellow brick road.

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This post is part of JusJoJan, Day 4.

A Round of Words in 80 Days (#ROW80) Goals for Round 1 of 2016

ROW80LogocopyI’ve learned through a lot of different experiences that writing down my goals and being accountable helps me achieve what I’m after. So with the new year, I’ve decided to join Row80. It’s claim is that it’s “A Writing Challenge that knows you have a life.” You set goals for 80 days at a time, with weekly check-ins. Weekly check-ins work well for me. Enough to keep me moving without being too overwhelming in reporting. The first round 1 of 2016 begins today, January 4. And I’m jumping in.

Much of this first round of 80 days focuses on editing projects for others and planning activities for my own writing, which will emerge as writing goals in Round 2. My other goals include figuring out the shape I want my blog to take, determining the other creative outlets I will pursue, and becoming more settled in a new home. Specifically, I will target the following:

Finish Accreditation Editing  (DEADLINE: January 30)
This project is going well. Ten of 15 chapters pretty much finished. The other five are well under-way. I have a meeting next week to finalize the recommendations. Then I can finish.

Finish Co-Authored Paper  (DEADLINE: January 11)
I’m waiting for my co-author to respond to my last take on the revision. This is relatively low-stress at this point, since we are largely in agreement about how to incorporate recommended revisions.

Finish planning courses and upload materials to website
I have to update my assignments and projects for Intro to Criminal Justice, but the Intro to Sociology will take a little more effort. I haven’t taught this course in a few years, and it’s a hybrid course (a few in-person meetings and the rest online).

Post on blog 25 days in January
I hope to publish something on my blog every day, but it’s better for me to exceed the goal than to miss it by one or two days. The January posts do not fit a specific theme. In fact, there is no real plan other than to experiment with all kinds of things, and see if anything sticks. Which leads to the next goal.

Create  a Blogging Plan
I am not talking about looking for a niche. I’ve made peace with the fact I don’t have to write about one or two topics and leave out things that don’t fit those topics. I admire people who have niche blogs, but as long as my life remains as eclectic as it is, I can’t expect my blog to be different. I’ll be looking for a couple of focal points for my life, but not necessarily for my blog. Still, I want to have a plan for publishing with a list of possible post topics and a rough schedule for doing so.

Read Draft Novels (TBA)

Work Out a Weekly Schedule
With all the various activities I need to do in a week, I need to schedule routine activities like grading, course prep, tutoring review, writing, and personal time. No reason to waste thinking time on remembering and scheduling these activities over and over.

Finish Jack’s Quilt
I’m ready to start the machine quilting. I want to have the quilt delivered to my grandson and then post pictures online (my daughter-in-law wants to be surprised), so no posting until the quilt is delivered.  😉

Piece the back of Kate’s quilt
My daughter has given me until her 30th birthday to finish it, but I’m going to see how many months ahead I can manage to beat that deadline. (She’ll be 29 the lst of March.)

Get back into regular music activities
I got a call about scheduling some dates to play at a church nearby, and once I get back into it by working with them, I can be on a wider sub-list. this is one of those two-birds-with-one-stone kind of things. I want to brush up on my skills, and earning a little extra money will be good. Who knows, I may even pick up a couple of piano students.

Determine longer range goals
I want to make this year really focused toward specific goals, but I haven’t yet really defined what those will be. The first half of Row 1 is going to be focused on creating a plan that will carry me through the year.

I’m sure there will be adjustments as I go, but this seems like a good place to begin. I’m off and running!

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share: Welcome 2016

weekendcoffeeshareIt’s Sunday, time to gather with family and friends and catch up on the week’s happenings. Check it out at Diane’s page.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I only have four more days left in Iowa before heading back to Michigan to start up the new semester.  It’s been wonderful to be here with David and his sister, even if one of her dogs can’t decide whether to play with me or bark at me.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I’ve made good use of my time here. The revisions of my co-authored paper are moving into the final phase, and the editing job I’m doing for an accreditation site visit are moving along.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I’m finalizing my plans for my two sections of Introduction to Criminal Justice and a hybrid section of Introduction to Sociology. This hybrid course features five in-person sessions at the beginning of the semester and another five (including the final exam) at the end. All the stuff in the middle is done online. I’m enjoying the chance to create something that will get students excited about sociology while having the freedom to try new things.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that in addition to the work I need to do for my own projects, I’ve been helping Dave with the sorting of papers and belongings, arranging for furniture pick up, and making the place a little more cozy, so his sister can really call it her own, now that Mom has been gone nearly two years. If Cathy’s tests at the end of January go well and the cancer doesn’t require any major surgery or treatment, Dave will be back in Michigan in February. Fingers crossed for all of us.

If we were having coffee,

I’d tell you that I finally got my sewing machine figured out and I have machine quilted nearly half of my practice quilt. I’ll be able to start the actual quilting on Jack’s quilt very soon — maybe even tomorrow!

I’d also tell you that My Weekend Coffee Share is going to double as a JusJoJan post. Head over and check it out.  🙂

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