I’m Here!

Sort. Pack. Stack. Load. Unload. Sort. Store.


Yeah, so we’ve all moved before.  I’ve moved (at last count) 12 or 13 times. But this summer had the added excitement of not only moving my and my husband’s household (which is still in-process), but move my parents’ household and sell their house, AND move my mother’s room from one Alzheimer’s care facility to another one.

And our combined five cats.

While I’m preparing for a new teaching position, with totally new courses, in a whole new part of the state.

The fact that I’m actually using a computer in my new home, hooked up to internet, with a coffee mug full of coffee that was actually brewed right here and isn’t from a Starbuck’s paper cup (not that there’s a Starbucks here in east-central rural Minnesota) is a testament to all the hard work done by my husband, my father, our loyal and selfless friends and family members, and my in-laws.

So, while I have a minute (I’m taking a break from my course planning, as classes start in THREE DAYS [gasp]) I’ll share some of the truly lovely things I’ve noticed about my new town, new school, and new life living with “my guys” (my 87-year-old father and my husband, and, again, our five cats).

I love, love, LOVE my new house. Seriously.  It’s so great that all the consternation over getting it (see previous entries) is worth it, several times over.  I’m undeserving of this, and so very, very lucky. I’ll share some of my favorite snapshots over the last couple of weeks so you can see what I’m talking about.

My backyard, during a light rain. Seriously. I live here.


Having breakfast with my husband in the gazebo.

Scandinavian collection on mantle on one of the TWO fireplaces.

A fibromite's dream bathroom!

I love my new town; everyone I’ve come into contact with from the hardware store to the grocer’s to the pharmacy to the cell phone shop have been delightful and extremely helpful. I’ve been enjoying the farmers’ markets around, and natural resources.

Behind our woods, there are forest trails!

Farm Market Café, in Onamia, MN...uses all local ingredients from local markets.

I love my new school!   The administration and faculty and staff have been some of the loveliest and most helpful people I’ve ever met. I’ve laughed with my colleagues, and been included on gatherings, all week during in-service, and my initial reactions to the school during my interview (I thought it was welcoming and happy) have been borne out. I’m excited to begin my new professional life here.


My new universe. 🙂


Like a cat held tightly–a cat with claws–I generally chafe at being boxed in, metaphorically. I’m not easily labeled.  I prefer organic flow, flux.

Litha Pull


Except when it comes to tasks.

I’m one of those people you read about who can’t clean the sink because then the whole kitchen needs cleaning, and what’s the point of doing that if you can’t change the sheets and mop up the basement, so the sink doesn’t get done.  I can’t grade just a couple of papers and then move on to something else; I’d best get them all done or nothing.  This is probably why I can’t do daily cooking chores, either; it’s either got to be a full Thanksgiving spread or I order out for ‘za.

I compartmentalize, and I can’t move from one compartment to the next until the first one’s empty and put on a shelf.

It’s not efficient, it’s not pleasant, and it drives my husband crazy, but there you have it.  I’m forty-five years old; change comes hard.

This probably explains why, when I’ve spent the last two months in total limbo over whether or not I’ll have a place to live by my new job, I can’t quite open the “plan for new school year” box until I have the “now completely settled in my new house” empty (save for a scrap or two, perhaps) and put away. As we hope to close on Wednesday (two days from now, but that’s not even settled), and as we’re planning on the actual moving process (I have very little to offer, what with the tendinitis and fibromyalgia and all), so we’re needing to line up help.

My husband, wisely, has said, “Well, it might take a while…we could do it [names possibilities weeks down the road] since we don’t even have our current home on the market, yet.”  Perfectly reasonable.

Unless you’re ME.

“AAACCCKKKKK!  No!  I need to start getting together with my new English colleagues and go over curriculum!  I need to plan my new courses, and get my room ready!  AAAACCKKKK!!!”  (That would be my reply.)

“Um–,” patient Husband responds, with puzzled look, “Can’t that overlap a bit?  I mean, you can still get together with your colleagues even if you’re not moved in, right?”

WHAT?!?  That would mean HAVING TWO BOXES OPEN AT THE SAME TIME! That’s CRAZY TALK! Nonsense!  I have to be moved in, with pictures on the walls and the right rugs on the floor, and everything put away, before I could possibly meet and discuss CURRICULUM and OUTCOMES! What, is he speaking GREEK?!?

Yeah. So that’s where I am right now.

And speaking of open boxes…my house is full of a bazillion of them as we slowly sort and pack. And people wonder why I’m a raving lunatic right now…

We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.*

Boing Boing (and Xeni and Cory) has long been one of my favorite daily stops in the corner of the web where design, geekdom, politics, freedom of speech, cute animals, and computers hang out and have adult beverages together. It’s kind of like taking a walk through one’s favorite boho University neighborhood–if it were filled with hackers‘ nooks, steampunk, and used bookstores.

Fairly often, I find something there that I bring to the attention of students, especially when I’m discussing Creative Commons or Lawrence Lessig (or, of course, using Doctorow’s writings in class). And, even though today is in July and I won’t be in front of students until September, one of the finds on Boing Boing today immediately suggested a fabulous first-week-of-school project, perfect for a teacher new to the district who doesn’t know any of the kids.

Boing Boing has a contest for desiging the most boring magazine cover.

The Winning Entry, from Boing Boing dot net

The Winning Entry, from Boing Boing dot net

While I don’t think my upcoming students are boring–far from it–the whole idea of using design and rhetoric (with a healthy dose of humor and pastiche) appeals to me.  I’ve been thinking of ways that I could get to know my students (and they, me) quickly and in fun, that will also incorporate writing and thinking.  This is perfect.

My students do not yet know it–or, well, *me*–but they will be designing their own magazine covers for *themselves*. Not only will I get to know them by the real magazine they might choose (I suspect I’ll see a lot of Seventeen and Sports Illustrated parodies, but who knows), but how they choose to portray themselves.  How they write headlines. What design choices they might make.  What *materials* they choose (as I often do, I’ll leave the digital vs. hard copy up to them, I believe). It will tell me a lot about who the individuals are in front of me, and a lot of what makes them tick (and how they write and complete projects).

It will also provide me with something to hang  up on my massive, bare white walls, right away at the beginning of the first quarter!

My New Classroom

My New Classroom

I’m very excited. And yes, I’ll be having to create my own, of course…I suspect I’ll be using Mother Jones or Smithsonian or Discover for mine.  This. Will. Be. Fun.

Thanks, Boing Boing!

*From John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club, of course…wanted to use the “demented and sad, but social” line, but that was a bit insulting…

Hay and Meditation

I’ve been known for a few things for all my life: I doodle, I’m stubborn, and I have zero patience. This summer has shown me a clever (read: frustrating) way to combine all three!

As I’ve been talking about, we (husband, father, all our collective cats, and I) have been planning a move across the state. Good things afoot. Found the perfect house, one I can’t wait to move into. Which obviously means, of course, that it’s time for the obstacles to enter, stage right. Getting a loan, having inspections, and now finding out how best to get the septic system up to code in order to get the loan when the sellers may not wish to comply.

And it’s been a holiday weekend.

And our loan officer seems to be mostly…MIA and uncommunicative.

I like the pace set at the beginning of this process.  I interviewed on May 26. I was offered the job on May 31. I resigned my old job June 1 and formally accepted the new position June 3. That same day, the 3rd, we found the house we wanted. We put in an offer on June 6th. Wow.  Whirlwind of changes!  Here we goooooooooooOOOOOOOOO!

And then…wait. Look at clock. Panic. Draw diagrams of new house.  Color-code the placement of furniture based on which house and which room the pieces are coming from.  Fret.  Rearrange.  Color-code some more.  Sketch some more.


Refuse to dream too much about the house because it would be heartbreaking to lose it.  Offer accepted (with some changes), inspection completed (with further changes).

Dig heels in, get good news, and finally start to relax and dream about the place.  Smile a lot.

Stubborn, but Smiling

Stubborn, but Smiling

Then, the septic system snafu (tension tends to run to the alliterative). Still in the process of this one, and I’m losing years off my life, here. While I don’t want to hear a definite “no” to this house, this limbo sucks, too, and there’s nothing else in the area in our price range.  I start my new job next month. Things are crazy!

There’s nothing left for me to doodle about (digitally or otherwise). Being stubborn will only go so far. And now, my patience is completely and totally gone.

Send help. I’ll be the one braying while holding a pencil and hitting my head against the wall, drowning in boxes.