Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Life in Two Time Zones

Have been feeling a bit fragmented during the past month. We took a huge leap and we purchased a home in the town where we hope to eventually retire. All this thinking of slowing down and taking life a bit more easy is highly contagious. It makes me almost yearn for the next few years to pass quickly, which according to my sainted grandmother is "wishing your life away" and a huge no-no! So I am not going to focus on that in this post, but rather on what this choice represents for Ed and I.

Our new house is six hours away from where we presently live and work. It is to be a vacation/holiday house until the time comes when we can move there permanently. I am really excited in that this is the first time we have actually chosen where we want to live.

In our profession, Lutheran teaching, you go where you are "called" to be and that could take you anywhere. Often it is in a direction away from what is familiar or what is near family. So for 40 years of our married life we have done just that. We have lived 35 of those years where we presently are, but it wasn't a place we chose for ourselves. We came here because we were asked to come here, felt it was where we could serve, and we stayed. But we miss the North.

Michigan, with its lakes, beaches, and winter snow,  will always be "home" to us. One of our daughters and her family live in the town where we will be retiring. The new house is a little smaller than our current house. Going to be downsizing and are pretty excited to think about that. It's all a new and somewhat strange way to be thinking about the future while still fully functioning in our current roles and employment.

The new house is in a different time zone both literally and metaphorically speaking. Where we presently live is our life full of schedules, demands, and commitments. Where we will live in the future is a wide open and rather unstructured lifestyle with the freedom to do as we please and to enjoy times with our extended family. I am so grateful that we are at a point where we can do this. It feels like we have "plans" and some direction for our coming years. God-willing there will be many happy times spent in our new home even as we wait to get to live there permanently. One week from today we sign the papers and the adventure of "two time zones" officially begins! Praying that it will be blessed in many new and exciting ways as we transition into it!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Eve - and Lessons from a Kayak

Summer is ending... or more to the point, summer HAS ended for Ed and I. Classes begin this week at our school and last week faculty obligations and meetings kicked into high gear. We are back to a schedule and routine of a teacher. So last night we took a little time and tossed our kayaks onto the roof rack and headed for Creve Coeur Lake for some paddle time.

I can't begin to tell you exactly how paddling a kayak about a small lake will relax you and help you sort things out. Out on the water there is almost always a breeze. We went out at about 5 and the animals along the shores were feeding and drinking. In one cove we counted over 7 egrets and saw a doe and her fawn come down to wade and drink in the shallows. It was so quiet and peaceful. I almost physically felt my anxious thoughts for the week ahead fly off on the breeze. The effort of paddling and moving forward on the water got me thinking of how I move through a school year.

This morning I am at my desk at school trying to wrap up the final tasks leading up to the arrival of new students tomorrow. I will be seeing about 70 per day this term and I am excited to see what the new year holds. What new challenges will they bring to me? What new ideas that I have been concocting will work the best? Will they enjoy the lessons I am planning to launch? Will they get what they need for moving forward in years to come? Lots of things to wonder about.

Teachers get a "new year" twice a year. The one that comes in August/September is just as packed with anticipation and resolutions as the one that comes in January. Happy New Year folks - Keep paddling forward!

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Walking at Sunset

Took a lovely stroll after dinner in our nearby park as the sun was sinking low. The park is one of our favorite place to walk and there are lovely paved paths that wind through it, making it a perfect place to go with the greyhounds.

The park tonight was alive with activity. The most noticeable was the groups of kids and parents doing "conditioning" for Little League Football. Now I use the term conditioning with a just a little bit of a grin. The athletes involved were all between the ages of 5-7 years old! So some of them could barely see about the face guard on their tiny helmets. Others were busy doing anything but what the grown-up coaches were barking at them to do. One little guy decided he'd rather do cartwheels than run toward a blocking pad that his dad was holding up as a target. It was hilarious. When they would tumble they would fall into little heaps on the grass and ended up looking like someone ha tossed a jersey on the grass, but then the jersey would wiggle and up would pop a little boy! Funny!

Also in the park were a good number of dog walkers and just plain walkers as well. So there was a lot of tail wagging and sniffing going on. There was a lovely breeze blowing and it was a little hard to believe that it was August based on the temperatures. I found myself making a mental pact with myself not to let the opportunities to walk in the evening slip by once school gets up and going. There is nothing more relaxing than a walk after dinner... even the greys loved it. (Of course, they are presently sacked out on the floor snoozing.) Perfect ending to a perfect day.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Thoughts Inspired by Cleaning House (well, really... a File Cabinet)

Worked most of the morning cleaning out a file cabinet. Well, reorganizing it and pitching stuff, that is. It struck me, as I worked, that I actually go into my file cabinet less and less frequently as the years go by. Technology has perhaps changed this more than anything in my teaching life. I don't keep "paper stuff" anymore at the levels that I once did.

What are the benefits and disadvantages of this? Aside from saving a few trees, there are some things to consider as well. Going paperless means you are comfortable shifting your trust in having a tangible copy to whatever computer and storage method you have for keeping a digital copy. We are seeing the downsides of this in the move to digital photos. People have their entire lives and all their memories on their phones! Great until you drop it in the sink... and then all your stories and photos go literally down the drain. So we come up with cloud or backup storage devices for our photos... the electronic equivalent of a file cabinet (or my grandma's shoeboxes in the attic).

Today, I needed to move some files from one digital storage (computer) to another (Lacie drive) and quickly discovered that not all my classroom computers worked with an external drive that just 5 years ago was the go-to device for backing up files. How do we keep pace with this kind of change?

Do I have an answer? Not completely.

I do know that I have found myself watching for cloud storage sites and services, hoping that they will have the means and the stability to give me a place to find things many years down the road. However, and this is ironic, I have found myself actually being very aware of having photos and important documents PRINTED out as well as having digital copies. This is especially true of my photos. I won't print every adorable shot I have taken of the grandkids, but I will print enough of them that my memories of them will be able to be accessible to me wherever I am living in the future. And in the meantime, I enjoy them in their electronic format as well.