BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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Goodbye 2021

It’s easy to turn on the news and reflect on all the negative things happening in the world. Illness, violence, deceit, discrimination, poverty. These are all too real, and devastating. Then there’s the flip-side. When I scroll through my social media I see loving happy families, dream vacations, marvelous feasts, milestone achievements, and joyous events. What’s the reality? All of the above, I’d say. Each life is a mixture of positive and negative experiences and emotions. I’ve been so fortunate to have my personal mix heavily skewed to the positive side of life. I know others aren’t so fortunate. I also know that things can change in an instant.

As 2021 draws to a close, it’s easy to find the things that didn’t work. The political divide, the ongoing Covid pandemic, and the spate of mass shootings instantly come to mind. But what about the things that did work? The past year has given me a lot to be grateful for. For one, I’ve rediscovered the joy I get from sewing and quilting. I’ve finished a few long-term projects, and knocked off a brand new quilt from some old and well loved fabrics. Even better, I’ve reconnected with my friend who is a master long arm quilter, and we managed to get together a few times in 2021, and not just to have her work her magic on my quilts.

I’ve also found time to read for pleasure. I’ve discovered three middle-grade series that I’ve been enjoying tremendously. The Front Desk series by Kelly Yang, Tuesdays at the Castle series by Jessica Day George, and the Endling series by Katherine Applegate are all terrific reads. I also thoroughly enjoyed the young adult serial mystery, Murder by Milkshake by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. It’s on Amazon’s Vella platform, which I was unfamiliar with, but actually liked.

In the summer of 2021 I was able to travel to visit my family and friends in my hometown. It seemed like a break from the pandemic, and it was a long overdue reset. Getting together with others was such a treat, and my friends even surprised me with a birthday cake. It was definitely memorable (and so thoughtful). A few fancy dinners, a few evenings on porches and patios, and hours and hours of conversation made the long wait worthwhile.

In terms of my professional life, I couldn’t be happier to be back in person with students. I’m hopeful that we won’t have to return to online learning, since I truly believe that my students do so much better in the classroom. My fantastic teammates are with me again this year, and they make all the difference. I’m also continuing to work on my National Board certification. I recently received my score from one of the four components, so now I have two down and two to go (and one is about halfway done, so that’s a plus).

My home is warm, thanks to a long anticipated upgrade to our heating/cooling system, and as of tomorrow I’ll once again be able to do laundry, thanks to an emergency upgrade to my laundry room. My dog is recovering from surgery, and she seems quite comfortable, so I’m happy with that too. Did all those things add up? Yes, but we’re able to handle them, so that’s something else to be thankful for.

And of course there’s my family. My son started grad school in 2021, and he’s doing really well. He also landed an internship that begins next week, so his 2022 is off to a great start. We have all managed to stay reasonably healthy (knock on wood), and I even learned to love exercise last summer. I can’t wait to get back into the pool and start again.

I may not live a fairy tale life, but I’ve got it pretty good. Everyday I wake up with a roof over my head, clean water and indoor plumbing in my home, and a good job to go to. I have people in my world who I love, and who love me. I have an education, a voice, and the ability to apply both. I have food in the fridge, money in the bank, and access to good healthcare. I have a television, computer, and phone to keep me connected to the world outside my home. All things considered, I have a lot to look forward to in 2022 and the future. I hope you do as well, and that your 2022 is healthy, safe, and rewarding.


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What Do You Say At a Time Like This?

I’ve felt tongue-tied recently. At least online. I want to write, but I’m not exactly sure what to write about. Naturally there are the BIG things. Things like justice, equity, access to healthcare, governmental responsibility, constituent responsibility, the role of media, the role of the courts, the issue of personal responsibility, the issue of public health.

I’ve stayed away from the BIG topics because I feel like a blog isn’t the right place for me to share my thoughts about them. It’s too one-sided. There are my words, then your interpretation of what I mean, then maybe a comment from you and a reply from me and that’s about it. There’s so much room for ambiguity and misunderstanding. There’s so much margin for error. I prefer to discuss these topics in a more two-sided way, with give and take from both parties. We don’t learn from one another by making proclamations, then closing our eyes, ears, and hearts.

So if not the BIG things, then what? There are plenty of things rattling around in my brain, but they seem so trivial at a time like this. In light of the pandemic raging and the U.S. Capitol being overrun, does anyone really want to read about my seemingly never-ending quest for just the right hand cream? Maybe. After all, I’m not the only one washing my hands excessively this winter.

Or maybe you want to hear about my brownie fail? I’ve made this recipe dozens of times, if not more. These brownies are the best. They ALWAYS turn out. Except the other day they didn’t. The closest I can figure is that I either set the oven for the wrong temperature (maybe 325 instead of 375?) or I set the timer for the wrong amount of time (13 minutes instead of 23?). I was distracted. I had more important things on my mind (more about that in a minute), and I rushed. Sure, they looked a little strange when I pulled them out of the oven, but they weren’t jiggly or anything. And no, I didn’t test them, because why would I? After all, I’ve made them dozens of times, if not more, and I was distracted. They’re still pretty tasty, but they are definitely underdone. Like, way underdone. They hold together, but really, they’re not exactly cooked. Oops.

And why was I distracted? Well, because if was just about kickoff time, and my football team is in the playoffs. Yes, the Buffalo Bills are showing up and it’s glorious. This football season has been a welcome distraction from the BIG things. The team has done so well, and they’ve been so much fun to watch. It’s been a long time since the Bills have gone this far, and it’s a ton of fun. Thank you, Buffalo Bills.

Then there are a bunch of “other” things. Things like the stolen credit card number (that my credit card company caught, thank goodness), the glitchy connection to my online students, and the thousands of spam messages to this blog. There’s the job hunt my son has been enduring, and not seeing much of him due to this stupid pandemic. There’s the mountain of work I need to do in order to complete the requirements to be considered for National Board Certification (for teachers), as well as the professional observation I need to schedule. There’s the concern about going out into the community that has kept me from the dentist and the hair salon, making me feel somewhat like a cave-woman. There’s the worry that I feel for my friends and loved ones, as the list of people I know who’ve been diagnosed with this horrible disease grows. There’s the anxiety of watching the news, but the feeling that I have to keep informed. There’s the wrath that my colleagues and I face from some members of the public, in our community and beyond, because our schools are functioning in an online only capacity for the time being. There’s a lot. And here we are, right back to the BIG things. They’re impossible to ignore.

It seems to me that it’s the big things that frame our lives, but it’s the small things that make them worth living. I’ll set up my observation, and continue the quest for the perfect hand cream. I’ll keep working my way through my National Board materials. I’ll keep looking for work-arounds when our Google meet goes wonky. I won’t give up on that brownie recipe, and I won’t give up on my football team. In the middle of all this crazy, you can still hear me shouting, “Go Bills!”


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A Different Kind of Christmas

No parties, unless you count a brief masked outdoor lunch at work (that I skipped).

No shopping, unless you count online shopping, in which case there’s been plenty of shopping.

No strolls around the neighborhood to enjoy the light displays, unless you count the daily walk to the mailbox that is more of an exercise in avoiding clusters of unmasked people who have come to our neighborhood to stroll around and enjoy the light displays.

No live performances of any sort. No Dave Koz, no children’s choir, no Nutcracker, no Christmas Carol, not even a school winter holiday concert.

I’ve noticed that several of my friends have really embraced the holiday season this year, setting up elaborate displays and decorating their homes to the max. They aren’t going to let a little thing like a global pandemic get in the way of enjoying Christmas. They are the grit your teeth and get it done no matter what folks. I admire them.

I, on the other hand, have gone the other direction. I’ve gone low key this year. Yes, there’s a Christmas tree, and it’s decorated, but there’s another whole tote of ornaments that didn’t make it on the tree this year. It’s okay, though, because the special ones are there.

The stockings are hung, but they’re the only thing on the mantle, which I usually decorate with greenery and various other holiday items.

The picture above the mantle is the same one that’s always there, not one that I put up just at holiday time. In fact on the walls I have exactly one holiday quilt and one holiday cross stitch piece.

The dining room table is covered in a red table cloth, and the kitchen table sports a green one, but neither holds a centerpiece. And Hanukkah? I’m afraid that got skipped all together.

Still, the house looks nice, not overcrowded, and I’ve baked some cookies, so that’s something. My son is quarantining so he can join us on Christmas, and he’s preparing the main dish. He’s turing into a very good cook.

Mine aren’t quite this perfect.

This holiday season may look different, and it may feel different, but I’m fortunate to be able to spend it with the ones I love, so I’m luckier than many people this year. Every day I’m grateful that we’re all still okay. Every day I hope that our good fortune holds out. Next year things will be different, hopefully they will be better. For now, though, I wish you the very best this holiday season. May you know peace, good health, and love.