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Archive for November, 2007

At a loss for words…

I’ve been really humbled by some of the responses to my last post, and honestly, I’m having trouble deciding what to post next.  I have a post on an unrelated topic half-written, but I just keep coming back and thinking about the responses from yesterday.

Hang in there.  I’ll sort it out soon.

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I saw where you visited my blog today. 

I saw where you searched on the terms “infertile women no children christmas“, and my heart broke for you. 

I know where your heart is right now – the Christmas holidays are coming up, and you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to live through them without breaking into a million jagged pieces.  How will you face your extended family and your cousin with the new baby?  So you started searching the internet for advice, for help, for the reassurance to know you’re not alone.

You’re not alone.  I’ve been there.  Every woman who has ever struggled with infertility has been there.

We’re all here together, but the shame and pain of infertility even keep us from reaching out to those who might actually understand how we can be afraid of Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or family reunions, and maybe even tomorrow.

If you visit here again,  please leave me a comment or send me an email.  I wanted to reach out to you, to see if I could help in some way, but you went away leaving only that faint trace of your visit. 

In empathy,

Trish

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The Tilling Fields

Thanks to my friend and personal photojournalist, Evan,  I have some pictures to post from Saturday’s frenzied pre-rainy-Sunday tillingfest

Trish in the greens 1Here’s a picture of me in the [decimated] collard greens.  Notice the lovely fall colors of the oak trees.  Also, notice the row directly to the right of the frame.  See how lovely and weed-free it is, all that fresh, red Georgia soil?  By the time I was finished that day, all the rows looked like that.  During active picking in the greens field, we don’t till between the rows because it just makes for muddy feet and angry greens customers, so the weeds and grass tend to fill the spaces between the rows.  During the break between Thanksgiving and Christmas picking, we till, water, fertilize, and generally nuture the greens back to health for the next round of holiday dinners.  Don’t worry about the collards, they come back strong and there will be plenty for everyone!  It seems I’m wearing (gasp!) another plaid flannel shirt!  This is an official “Grandpa Shirt” that will eventually form part of the super-comfy-Grandpa-Shirt-quilt (just as soon as I learn how to quilt, Emilie…)

Me and Gramps in the greensHere’s a picture of me and Grandpa in the collard greens.  Notice the pretty rows to the left?   Hm, Grandpa is wearing the customary plaid flannel shirt, also.  Does that make him a lesbian as well?  I doubt it. [I promise to get over this flannel=lesbian thing soon…it’s just so funny to me!]  Please don’t notice my wide fanny….Really, it’s not that wide….I’m just hunched over the tiller, working hard….yeah, that’s it.  It’s the camera angle.  I’m actually svelt and ….oh, who am I kidding? Thanks, Evan, for taking a picture of my fanny….  

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Spam mystery du jour

I get a -lot- of spam, and I mean a lot, since my email is on the university website in about, oh, a kajillion places.  Fortunately, we have spam filters on our university accounts, but I still feel like it is important to scan the filter once in awhile and be sure that something important didn’t get caught in the net.

 Most of the spam is pretty straightforward, promising me enhancements of anatomy I don’t have or offering to sell me software at dirt-cheap prices or inside stock tips that are guaranteed to pay off big.  But today I’m stumped. 

What can it mean, this mystery spam?  What promises of instant fortune, happiness, and fulfillment can be gleaned from the title,  “Shower Dress Car-race Television Chocolates School Book“?

Is it like a fortune cookie, vague but pointed in its daily application of wisdom?

Is it a capsulated view of my life?  First, I shower, then I dress, then I race to work on my morning commute.  Once at work, I accomplish all the video and media tasks of the faculty, by mid-afternoon, I crave chocolate.  But it’s off to class for me, and then home where I hit the books before starting all over again.

That’s it!  I thought my life was revealed by the clutter of my bedside table, but apparently, it’s really not much more than spam.

Oh, dear…..

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My bedside table, my life

If a picture paints a thousand words, then a picture of my bedside table just about says it all about me.  As I was sitting in bed yesterday, passing the rainy day by studying under the warmth of my electric blanket, I looked over to my left and took a glance at my side table.  There it was, my life revealed in one precarilously piled heap of interests.  Let me give you the tour of Trish, via the nightstand.

bedside

1.  Bible study materials.  There are always so many more wonderful materials than I have time to work through, but I try to read something each night. 

2.  My cellphone.   What time is it? What important phone call might be coming soon?  I can’t let that be all the way across the room, or I might have to leave my cocoon of warm.

3.  Gardening books, seed catalogs, and an issue of the Georgia Market Bulletin.  It’s never too early to dream of spring planting or too late to look up parasitic insects and their remedy.

4.  Professional books.  The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People (which I’ll finish reading if I can make it through the chapter on procrastination…), The Little Black Book of Connections, The Fifth Discipline, and the ever-popular Dick & Carey book, The Systematic Design of Instruction.

5.  Craft supplies.  Doesn’t everyone do crafts in bed?

6.  Gigantic Spanish dictionary, now being used to hold my lamp up higher.  A remnant of my undergraduate and MA studies.  You never know when you might need to look up a Spanish word.  Or reach your lampswitch easier.

7.  Emergency pen and highlighter.  In case I read something really  interesting, but didn’t have the foresight to bring a highlighter to bed.

8. Aaaaah.  My 36″, 8-harness Harrisville loom, neatly folded and put away while I concentrate on my doctoral studies.  I miss you, loom.  We’ll play again when I finish my dissertation….

9.  Small stuffed bunny.  My personal totem animal.  My house is filled with (inanimate) rabbits of all kinds. 

So there you have it.  A view of my life from my bed.  No wonder my brain is so cluttered!   What’s missing? My husband and my pets, of course.  But then, I don’t keep them on my bedside table.  I let them in the bed, with me!

 What does your bedside table say about you?

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four a.m.

How many blog posts are written at four in the morning?  After a full day of studying and writing, advancing one step closer to finals for this semester, I had trouble falling asleep.  Every possible thought jangled around in my head, from television to imminent tasks, thoughts on evaluation matrices for my class, unfinished knitting projects, work responsibilities, gardening, television, pets, fashion…..just one giant plate of mental spaghetti. I even managed to work up a little ire with my sweet, and completely unsuspecting, husband.  Poor Tony, he’s so often the victim of my sleepless nights!

I did manage to sleep for a couple of hours, but here I am again, drinking soy milk and eating fig newtons while staring at my computer screen.

I could work on my project for school, but I’ve forgotton all the “brilliant” and pressing ideas I had at one a.m.  I could knit, but I’d have to turn on a light to do it.  

I’ve already read my favorite blogs, including Pioneer Woman who posted a beautiful picture of father and son.

Oh, and I threw Lia, the cat, out in the rain.  Well, I’m not heartless! She insisted on going out.  I told her it was raining….

Rain! I forgot to mention that we’ve had twenty-four hours of perfect rain: slow, steady, soaking rain.  And it’s forecasted to continue through today.  So in a brief update, the leaves have now officially fallen from the trees here, and winter has arrived in the Flint River region of Georgia. 

Yesterday I went out to the farm and worked like a fiend in anticipation of the rain.  I tilled between all the rows of greens, working for about six hours, so that the rain would be able to soak down deep in the soil.  If I’d had more time, I would have side-dressed all the rows with fertilizer, but it’s dark now at 5:30, so that will have to wait.  We’re reconditioning all the greens after the Thanksgiving rush, and have closed the fields for the next three weeks before opening again right before Christmas.

The night before Thanksgiving, I made pepper sauce.  I had meant to make more pepper jelly, and maybe even some chow-chow over the break, but things kept getting in the way.

And, after reading back over this, I can’t help but notice that my brain is still going ninety miles per hour in every direction.  It will be a long day.

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My friend, Evan, has commented that I may be obsessed with tractors, and I’m not saying he’s entirely wrong…he knows me too well.  He’s seen me go through some crazy things in the past ten years or so, and he knows I can get a bit fixated sometimes. 

Which made me consider whether or not I actually am obsessed with tractors, and I can honestly say I’m not.  I like them, sure. I like being able to drive one and work the soil, but it’s not the tractors that fascinate me, it’s what they can do. It’s what I can do with them, how they have influenced my family, and what they represent for me.

A few years ago, I became fascinated with sailing ships of the past, galleons and brigs and frigates, Jack Aubrey, Horatio Hornblower, and pirates of the oceans blue.  I even took a few sailing classes before I realized that I was a bit too clumsy for sailing.  But although I learned as much as I could about ships and rigging, sailing and fighting, I don’t think it would be fair to say that I was obsessed with ships. 

I was obsessed with escape.  Escape from my problems, escape from my hopelessness, escape from my pain.  And for that period in time, ships and sailing represented freedom for me, the ability to leave my life behind and never leave a trail.  I wanted to visit brave new lands, live carelessly and free, anonymously, unattached, unfettered, and unafraid.

I’ve changed, and my “vehicle of choice” has  apparently changed, as well.  Instead of looking for mental escape on the ocean roads, I seek to plant seeds of stability and put down roots in the Earth.  I’ve stopped trying to run away, and have invested myself in cultivating relationships and planting seeds for my future.   The hours I spend on the tractor and in the garden have yeilded a harvest, not only of food, but of memories, traditions, wisdom and closeness with my family that I’ve never allowed myself before.  The tractor, the ability to drive it, to work it, to till the land, and raise harvest with my own hands, ties me to my family, my heritage, my grandfather.  It is a bond between where I come from, and who I am.

I’ve come to realize that, if my dreams for the foundation and for the land come to fruition, I will, in essence, be “grounded”, rooted to that place and to that work, and strangely, I welcome it.  I long to leave a legacy for future generations, to leave a mark of my passing through in the same way that the tiller leaves a path in the soil from which a plentiful harvest can grow.  I want to stay in one place, for the first time in my life, and cultivate a life of growth. 

My running with the wind days are over, it seems.  My setting down roots has begun.

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A brief apology…

Dear favorite red and black flannel shirt,

I am so sorry that I wore you with a slightly magenta-colored shirt today!  Can you ever forgive me? I really, really tried to match the reds.  I stood in my closet for a good 5 or 6 minutes before picking that shirt.  I didn’t know it would be rosy in the daylight!

I’ll try to make it up to you.  I’ll wear you with a really nice black sweater, next time, and I promise to never, ever again try to match reds inside the closet, early in the morning.

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There’s no doubt about it, Georgia is in the grips of a devastating drought.  When you see it on the news, and translated into inches-below-average rainfall measurements, it can seem rather distant and unimpressive.  But on a human level, we’ve seen job loss on an individual basis, well-established nursery businesses filing bankruptcy, property values decline, and dramatic impacts on everyday lifestyles. 

In Georgia, there’s a sense of there being two states, urban and rural, or as is eluded to, Atlanta and everywhere else.  But this time around, the drought is affecting all of us.  Agriculture has suffered on a scale that, hopefully, we’ll never become accustomed to, and cattlemen are culling their herds due to a shortage of available hayin the Southeast.  Meanwhile, in the urban and suburban areas, water restrictions are the tightest they’ve ever been, with carefully-designed landscaping dying and drying in the sunshine.  Grim predictions of a dire shortage of drinking water persist, with rumors circulating about the prospect of rationing.  Grocery stores are seeing a run on bottled water in the same way that they experience shortages of bread and milk before a winter storm. In all, the lack of rain has come home to Atlanta.

So how could a drought like this bring anything other than misery? 

Just look at the trees……..we’ve never had a fall this colorful, this beautiful for this long.  Even the old folks, picking greens in the garden, can’t help but pause and comment.  Our normal pattern in the fall is, just as the trees start to turn colors, the windy thunderstorms strike and denude the trees of their leaves with nary a glimpse of fall color.  We’re used to verdant summer cascading in a torrent  into the grey nakedness of winter; you can hear it in the way we wistfully talk about driving north to “see the trees” as if we didn’t have trees in our area.  What we mean, of course, is that we long to go north see the trees that still have their fall foliage, to breathe in crisp autumn air, and experience for an afternoon or, luxuriently, a whole weekend, the passage of the seasons.

Not so this year.  October and November ushered in no torrents of rain to wash away the color, and even driving into work along Sandy Creek road, I can inhale deeply and savor the collage of brilliant oranges, yellows and golds set against a perfect, blue, cloudless the sky.  A canopy of old oaks and maples lines the road and drapes me in autumn splendor.  White fences shine brightly in the sunlight and stand in contrast to the array of colors, framing fields and gardens in a raucus display of seasons.

I can’t help but feel thankful for the gift of this fall, and maybe that makes me duplicitous.  I pray for rain, for great waterfalls of rain that will heal the parched land around me, and yet every morning I allow myself the guilty pleasure of being thankful for the beautiful fall this year.  For the cool dry nights, for  the bright sunny days, for the brilliant array of colors, and for being allowed to drive down a country road on my way to and from the city.  And if I am duplicitous in my enjoyment of the beauty that this tragic drought has brought us, how much more duplicitous is the drought, for making a landscape so dry, and so breathtakingly beautiful?

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Well, maybe not a million, but certainly many.  While I was travelling to San Antonio for the annual ACTFL meeting to present on my academic activities, it seems that my non-professional mind was hard at work cooking up blog posts.  Potential titles include

  • The Dichotomy of Drought
  • From Ships of the Sea to Movers of the Earth
  • Thanks for the aluminum jungle gym and the headache
  • Las entradas de la fe

and I’m sure there were others that may have been obliterated by margaritas.  Any votes on which to tackle first?

All in all, the conference was wonderful.  Harried as usual, but really energizing.  On Friday morning, I played hooky for a few hours and drove out to see the Missions on the San Antonio Mission trail.  I took an opportunty to take both tourist photos, and artsy photos while I concentrated on the the architectural details and remains of the three missions I visited, Mission Concepcion, Mission San Jose, and Mission Espada.  What a beautiful step back in time that was for me and a great way to tap into my artistic and imanginative side.  The Spanish colonial architecture drew me in, as it always does, to a place deep inside my childhood imagination, where conquistadors and pirates populate an imagination as fertile as the rainforest and as vast as the desert.

Once back in conference central, I spend the rest of the time networking with other language professionals and attending conference sessions related to my interest in technology for language teaching and learning.  I also fell in with the other members of IALLT who were in attendance, which made the whole experience a kind of portfolio-expanding pub-crawl. The final margarita count was 9, a new record! 

But I’m glad to be home now, and coming up on the Thanksgiving holidays.  It will give me time to both catch my breath, catch up with my thoughts, and catch a few extra hours with those who are most important to me. 

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