Category Archives: Blessings

New job, new house, New Mexico

I’ve been threatening since 2001 to run away to New Mexico for vacation and never come back. Last month, I made good on that threat.

I’d intended to post an update earlier, but things happened so quickly, tonight is really the first chance I’ve had to catch my breath.

In late September, I interviewed for a job teaching English at House High School in House, New Mexico. I was offered the job Oct. 2, with an Oct. 9 start date. In between, we’d already scheduled our vacation, with plans to leave Cape the morning of Oct. 5 and arrive in Tucumcari the evening of Oct. 6.

This is the view from my front porch.
We rolled into town in time for dinner Oct. 6, put an offer on a mid-century house with a view of Tucumcari Mountain from the living room on Oct. 7, and I started my new teaching gig the morning of Oct. 9. House is up on the Caprock Escarpment, about 47 miles from Tucumcari; my 50-minute commute across the Llano Estacado and up the Caprock takes me past Tucumcari Mountain, Bulldog Mesa, and Mesa Redondo every morning and evening, usually just in time to watch the sun rise and set. That picture you see at the top of this post was the view as I came down off the Caprock one afternoon during my first week of school.

This is my new kitchen. I need to do a whole post about the glorious mid-century time capsule that is my new house.
We’re on a four-day school week, which basically means I get to use every Friday as a planning period, and I have a grand total of 14 students, which means I rarely, if ever, have to bring home papers to grade. My kids are hilarious, and I’m having a lot of fun with them. Living in a small town with limited amenities makes some of the prep work a little challenging (I can’t just run to Michael’s or a teacher-supply store when I need something), but ultimately, it forces me to plan better and be more creative, which isn’t a bad thing. I’ll have some stories about that — along with tips and tricks for other teachers — in future posts.

At the moment, the only real drawback is the fact Ron, Walter, and the dogs aren’t here yet because Ron is still trying to tie up loose ends in Cape Girardeau. (Speaking of which, somebody buy our house. It’s cute, energy-efficient, and totally move-in ready, thanks to all that work I did to whip it into shape over the past two years. Tell your friends.)

I’ll have more detailed posts about my adventures — with plenty of photos, of course — at some point in the future. In the meantime, keep chasing your dreams. They really do come true, and sometimes in finer style than you imagined possible.

Emily

Advertisements

Mission accomplished

We finished paying off our dead Subaru this week.

*Breaks finish-line tape*

*Spikes football*

*Circles bases while pointing at sky*

*Does touchdown dance in the endzone*

*Sends a “Dear Subaru: t(-_-t) ” note*

Now that we’re all done paying off a station wagon that doesn’t run, we can pour those resources into retiring the loan we took out to replace the sewer line last year after the roots of the neighbor’s tree grew into it and clogged it up. (I still don’t understand why I am legally responsible for damage caused by somebody else’s tree, but I’d like a word with whoever made that rule.)

Emily

Make-it Monday: Flowerbed

echinacea

Inspired by an end-of-season sale on echinacea, rudbeckia, and Oklahoma Indian blankets, I was just turning over the first few spades of dirt for a new flowerbed in the front yard when a young man walked up and asked if I’d consider paying him to do some yard work. He was stranded in town, he said, and was trying to earn enough money to buy a bus ticket home to Springfield, Missouri, to see his daughter.

I’d already hit three rocks by that point and was losing my enthusiasm for the project, so I told him I’d give him $20 an hour to spade up the area I wanted to plant and flatten out the rise left in the yard after the plumber replaced our sewer line last year.

I figured he’d be out there the rest of the afternoon, but he had the flowerbed spaded up in less than 15 minutes, and in the time it took me to install mulch cloth and plant my flowers, he’d flattened that rise. He was done in just over an hour, so I treated him like those fraction-of-an-hour-is-an-hour contractors and sent him off to the Greyhound station with $40, a big bottle of Gatorade, and a big smile.

I cannot believe he did this in 45 minutes. It would have taken me all weekend.
I cannot believe he did this in 45 minutes. It would have taken me all weekend.

After he left, I took myself to Lowe’s to pick up mulch and more flowers — including several daylilies to plant along the sewer line.

Daylily. I forget the variety, but I like the dark eye.
Daylily. I forget the variety, but I like the dark eye.

Between the two of us, I think we did a pretty good job.

Finished bed. Well, almost finished. It still needs edging.
Finished bed. Well, almost finished. It still needs edging.

I still need some flagstone to use as edging, and I need to move the coupler and spare hose to the front so I can water more easily, but I’m happy with this project so far, and I’m looking forward to expanding the beds in the coming months so they’ll be ready for planting in the spring.

Emily

Birds of the air

“…your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
Matt. 6:8

Sometime around 1989, my internal clock calibrated itself for Rawaki Island. This would be fine if I lived on Rawaki Island, but I don’t. Nobody else does, either, except for a few seagulls and feral rabbits, and I don’t think any of them are hiring.

I’m healthiest, happiest and most productive when I can go to bed about 3 a.m. and get up around 11. When I try to move that schedule up more than an hour or two, I end up with all kinds of obnoxious little symptoms that make life unpleasant and hamper my productivity.

I’ve tried every imaginable technique to reset my internal clock. I finally exhausted all my own ideas and sought help from a doctor, who recommended meditating; shutting off my electronic devices a couple of hours before bedtime; and taking melatonin.

The melatonin made me sick; the other recommendations, while pleasant, did nothing to alter my natural sleep cycle.

Frustrated, I Googled “circadian rhythm” last night and discovered there’s a name for the way I’ve slept for the last quarter-century. It’s called delayed sleep phase syndrome, and it affects about 3 out of every 2,000 people.

DSPS can be very difficult to treat, and since most people have never heard of it and regard “my body runs on Kiribati Standard Time” as a bullshit excuse for sleeping in, the easiest solution for most people with DSPS is to find a job with a schedule that matches their internal clock and move on.

I’d never heard of DSPS when I sat down to meditate the other night, but as I settled into the Fortress of Solitude and tried to concentrate on my breathing, my mind started to wander (as usual), and I got to thinking about the Sermon on the Mount, which I decided was an acceptable thing to think about while meditating, since it’s practically a Zen text anyway and thus conducive to relaxation.

Less than 24 hours after I’d considered the lilies of the field and beheld the birds of the air, my boss called me into his office — apropos of nothing — to tell me he was switching me from reporting to copy editing.

This means I won’t have to be at work until 3 p.m., and I’ll be able to stay up until 3 a.m. every night without running late or making myself sick. I might even have time to squeeze in a jog before work.

Behold the birds of the air.

Especially the seagulls fishing on Rawaki Island.

Emily

Little blessings

Little blessings today:

1. I tried this excellent yogurt recipe last night. It turned out well and saved me some major cleanup hassles. I’ll blog about it one Saturday in the near future.

2. I finally got hold of two sources I’ve been trying to reach for over a week, so the deadlines I’d been worried about suddenly became less worrisome. After 30 years, you’d think I’d be used to the last-minute nature of this business, but sometimes I lose the rhythm and forget that things have a way of coming together when I need them to, if not necessarily when I want them to.

3. I went to cancel our gym membership tonight, since we don’t use it as much as we’d hoped, and the contract was set to expire this month. The guy who filed my paperwork said if I’d come in one day later, I’d have ended up being billed for another month. I almost waited, because I was tired and hungry when I left the office, but I decided to get it out of the way so I wouldn’t have to think about it any more. SCORE.

Emily

Eco-Saturday: Planting day (and a tomato tip)

Today’s Eco-Saturday entry is mostly excited chatter, with one good tip at the end for drought-proofing tomatoes.

First, the excitement: It’s Planting Day!

bed
Mini-bed at the center of the yard. Indian blanket, strawberries, some direct-seeded arugula and an assortment of herbs.

This year, we had another bit of excitement to go with the usual joy of getting the garden into the ground:

bees

We spent the morning picking up a nuc hive from an ol’ boy down at Dexter. I’ll explain about nucs in a future post. Right now, I want to talk about the bees’ move-in day.

When honeybees feel at home in a new hive, they signal that to each other by sticking their butts in the air and doing a little dance.

Before I could finish transferring the frames from the nuc box to the girls’ new hive, they’d started doing the “yay, we’re home!” dance. If Miley Cyrus hadn’t clearly demonstrated why white girls shouldn’t twerk, I might have been tempted to join them, because with their arrival, I finally felt completely at home in my house, too.

More excitement: We left the lid off during a rainstorm to give it a good soaking, so the compost bin has finally heated up. I think it’s a little nitrogen-heavy — it smelled like ammonia when I opened it today — but that should change as the quail litter, which is mostly carbon, starts to break down.

The next couple of pictures are herbs I planted near the pond.

pond1
Gratuitous mermaid shot, with lemon balm planted at left. Not shown, because they were busy hiding: Eight little goldfish.
pond2
Chocolate mint (left) and lavender (right).

They don’t look like much yet, but here are a couple of our tomato plants:

tomatoes
When the soil hits 80 degrees, they’ll grow like kudzu.

If you want your tomatoes to be virtually drought-proof, here is the secret:

Postholes.

Dig until you hit hardpan, then keep digging until you’ve gone all the way through it. Fill up the hole with compost and plant your tomato seedling in it. This allows the roots of the plant to go deep enough to reach moisture, even during a drought.

You can grow decent tomatoes without this step, but if you’ve got time to do it, you’ll love the results. I had the best-looking plants and biggest tomato crops of my life when I used this method in Belleville, and my dad, who taught me this trick, used it to grow 24-foot vines with spectacular yields the year I was born. I think I’ve got a picture of that garden around here somewhere. If I can find it, I’ll post it. It’s glorious.

Hope your Saturday was as awesome as mine.

Emily

P.S.: I know I still owe you Vegan Friday. I got sidetracked last night and didn’t get it posted, but it’ll be worth the wait, I promise.

 

P.P.S.: Edited to correct a detail about the bees’ weird little dance.