TO THE LAND OF THE PINES

As much as I enjoyed reading a lighthearted novel set in modern day South Carolina, I found myself nose deep in another book the very next day, this time a dense and intricate civil war scarred love story set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

I’ve read this book once before (and tried my best to make it through the film version but one thing I’m not good at is sitting through movies that heavily feature bloodshed). I remember loving the complexity of the language that dressed a rather simple tale, and how captivated I was by the landscape and culture of the region. I knew it was the American south, but its exact location had faded from my mind.

Even when I first arrived in Asheville, I did not immediately make the connection. It wasn’t until a few weeks before we departed for our return to San Diego that I realized the place folks would reference as a great spot for hiking was, in fact, the very same Cold Mountain after which this book is titled.

Southern Appalachia isn’t a place one simply visits. It is a place that is as much a part of one’s being as any other vital organ, and eventually there comes a point when the magnetic pull of those ancient inclines becomes too strong to ignore, leaving no option other than to heed the call and head for the hills.

We speak often of returning, though it is no more than a distant dream. For better or worse, we have tethered ourselves to our fair seaside city and have committed to making big things happen here for our little family. But one day? I would not at all be surprised to find us sitting on the porch of a mountaintop homestead.

In the meantime, I’ll delight in knowing that as much as I’d like to fancy myself an Ada, deep down, I’ve always been a Ruby.

JUST LIKE THE WHITE WINGED DOVE

Altogether, this has worked out to be a rather balanced first week of summer vacation. I started and finished a novel, got to work on two new quilt projects (one of which is my very first commission, more on this later), watched a few movies, lounged around in bed, caught up on my housework, and tended to my garden.

More than once, I fell asleep before getting in front of my keyboard. I’m not mad about it.

I am, however, getting quite excited to jump into a couple of things I’ve been saving for when school let out. To keep myself motivated through the report writing process – subject teaching, am I right?! – I’m not allowed to get started on any of them until my first drafts have been submitted for editing.

Truth is, I don’t have much to mention at the moment. My words are flowing in another direction, and I’m entirely preoccupied with thoughts that are either not at all meant for this space, or that are indeed for this space, but not just yet.

A brand new moon perfectly synced with the summer solstice sounds like the best possible way to start this next season.

SO THINK ABOUT YOUR MASTERPIECE

For whatever reason, I cannot get the theme from The Rockford Files out of my head. I mean, it’s pretty catchy.

Now that I think about it, it’s oddly reminiscent of the theme song to the American version of The Office. Or, I suppose that theme is reminiscent of The Rockford Files?

Compelling stuff, I know.

I devoured that novel in a total of three sittings, not because it was excellent per se, but because it was an excellent escape. I offered to send it through the mail to a friend of mine who happens to live in the southern city in which the story is set, and she told me that she doesn’t really read but that she’d listen to it. Instead, I gave it to my daughter, who happens to currently be absorbed in the same book about bees her brother discovered the summer before he entered Grade 8.

There is definitely a metaphor wrapped up in here somewhere and I’m entirely too tired to thread it all together at the moment. Of course, by tired, I mean “ready to climb in bed and watch The Office” and I think this might explain the tune on repeat still ringing in my ears.

THE GROOVE SLIGHTLY TRANSFORMED

I started reading a new book yesterday. It’s been a longstanding tradition of mine to herald the arrival of summer break by diving into a new work of fiction. Ordinarily, I carefully choose the title, either by selecting the most recent prize-winning novel or a classic I haven’t yet explored.

This year? I mindlessly grabbed a paperback from the random stacks at the Costco during my last visit because the cover had the loveliest shade of cobalt blue and the word BEE in the title.

It’s not a riveting or earth shattering work by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve slipped somewhat easily into the southern family drama. Anyway, I’m grateful to have something to distract me from thinking about, you know, stuff.

The funny thing is that I didn’t think there would be much of a transition into our new rhythm once distance learning concluded. Well, joke’s on me! Turns out this version of “summer vacation” is oddly similar to the first two weeks of quarantine before distance learning began. There is not much to do except be home, together. Without the lessons that gave each of them something meaningful to do on a daily basis, the responsibility falls upon me to keep them inspired and entertained. And fed.

It’s a good thing I spent all those summers working as a camp counselor, is what I’m saying.

STRUCK FROM A GREAT HEIGHT BY SOMEONE WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER

Overflowing with questions is how I’d respond to an inquiry as to my current state of being. How it’s going? I’m not quite sure.

Here’s what I know for certain: I love my family, our home, making things with my hands, writing, dancing, living in San Diego, and eating great food.

Everything else is up for debate, as far as I’m concerned. I read somewhere recently that if it terrifies and excites you, then it’s probably worth pursuing. I think about this multiple times a day. I also think that not advocating for necessary change is consenting to things staying exactly as they are. No, thank you!

This is a time of great unrest, great uncertainty, and great transition. I see it in the world. I see it in myself.

While I have absolutely no idea how best to proceed at this precise moment, I know the only way forward is bravely and truthfully.

I’ll choose my words carefully, but silent I shall not be.

WIPEOUT

Brain fried. Heart broken.

Tomorrow is another day.

(Grateful beyond words for the loving support of my sweet husband, his partnership truly makes all the difference.)

THE JASMINE’S IN BLOOM

Yes, it’s ending in an odd way, but it’s the final school night of the year and that calls for some sort of celebration. We grilled a pizza.

Actually, we grilled two – one for lunch and another for dinner.

Also, we went to IKEA, inside the store. Remember when I had to wait three weeks for an order to be delivered? Those days, it seems, have passed.

A family errand. A pizza party. And two of our vegetable starts spending their first night outside.

I see you coming, summer.

MAKE THE BEST OF THIS TEST AND DON’T ASK WHY

I’m tired. Are you tired? Surely, you must be tired. This is tiring. This quarantine, this working from home whilst homeschooling, these protests. It’s all so overwhelming.

It was over ninety degrees in San Diego today, which is practically scorching. Something about the heat has scrambled my brain because there is not much happening by way of firing synapses or the formulation of coherent thoughts.

I did discover that my deadline for writing narrative end-of-year student reports is a full three weeks later than I had originally thought, which felt like a huge victory amidst all this mental unrest.

I’ve been noticing that my eyes have been bothering me more than usual, hardly at all surprising given their excessive screen exposure as of late. I finally went in for an eye exam yesterday to discover that my previous prescription is actually too strong. This is confusing not only because I haven’t worn my glasses in close to a year, but also because does this mean I should keep not wearing them? Who’s to say!

Tomorrow begins the first round of class farewells. The end really is beginning and I am quite ready.

EVERY NIGHT HAS ITS DAWN

It is without much heartache at all that I bid adieu to my virtual classrooms, though it is with quite a bit of gratitude. I am fortunate to have been able to continue working throughout these twelve weeks of quarantine, even if the work hardly resembled my actual job.

I miss my students, I miss teaching in a physical classroom, I miss the energy of our campus. But, it’s Sunday night, and I am keenly aware of how much more relaxed I am than were I to be faced with an alarm clock and a rush to get everyone out the door in time for school tomorrow.

The chaos of a Monday morning is something I do not miss in the least.

Just four more days left before students are released for summer break and we teachers turn our attention to report writing and “planning” for next year. I use the term planning loosely, because who knows what’s going to happen next week let alone next September? Nevertheless, we are attempting to forge ahead with good intentions and lot of hope.

As I personally reflect on this crazy intense school year and contemplate what’s next, one thing is for certain – I love to make stuff with my hands.