twinkling into the abyss

(none of the photos in this post were taken by me. full credit goes to a team of photographers including Jonas, Ella, Ginny, and Chloe, who all used my camera)

I don’t talk about my work too much here. Mostly because when I am writing it’s on the weekends and I’m surrounded by busy or quiet weekend things, family, friends. My title is librarian/media specialist and but I’m a little more like a Swiss Army knife, mixing books and web resources and tech help and teaching information skills and helping students develop organizational strategies. Mostly I help people do what they need to. Really it’s about relationships, day in and out, with these quirky 8th and 9h graders who are hilarious and ridiculous and smart and silly.


My school is in a working class district. Approximately half of my students receive free or reduced lunch. Many students work. A lot of students have had really really crappy things happen in their lives, things and situations that are about poverty and the box it puts you in so that you don’t even know you’re in a box at all, let alone know you could get out. So I sometimes get in my car and cry on the way home, and I get mad and snarky, and when I listen to the Pledge each morning, after “…and liberty and justice for all,” I always always add (in my head) IF YOU’RE WHITE AND HAVE MONEY. Mostly we are white in this, the whitest county in the whitest state of America.


But there’s always the one or two I want to save. Boys mostly. The lost ones who don’t smile because they are too tough already. And I twinkle at these boys with the full force of my desire to make them feel acknowledged. I greet them by name and I ask about their hunting trip or their lobster haul or their four-wheeler. And I don’t have to pretend to care, because I do, and I want to give them my full and complete attention and hear their story. Sometimes the twinkling is exhausting work because I am trying to fill a big hole.

Who hurt you once/ so far beyond repair/ that you would greet each overture/with curling lip? (Louise Penny)


Today I made a boy laugh who rarely smiles. And I made a boy smile who I have never seen smile before. And these were the very best things I did all day.


~in between~


It’s a really nice place to rest.  We may not be settled into our next forever home, but this is pretty lovely. Seeing sunrises is an occupational hazard when you’re a high school teacher. Except now, until Daylight Savings, we’re leaving the house before sunrise.


Really interesting variety of stones on this beach, leading us to believe this might be the dumping ground of a previous glacier..  Some bright white, some pink and green, some with funny zippity bits of vertical lines (almost like rice grains but longer), some with sparkles. So we get to take walks amidst all this beauty.

We also do fun fall things like pick apples at our favorite local, almost-organic orchard. We have to import adorable small people, for the sake of the photographer. Here’s our friend A., whom I have known since she was born (literally!), with that difficult problem of how to simultaneously hold the apple you’re eating, the very heavy apple bag (that holds all four of the apples you already picked), and the apple you just pulled off the tree.

And we still spend time drawing and doing homework. Sylvan has the most adorable way of pooching out his lower lip while he draws. You can just see it in the second picture. It makes my heart hurt to look at it.




Someone took our picture. And we look adorable in our matching owl sweatshirts!

I just finished a book that made me immediately wistful when I finished it: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Some Facebook friends suggested we could call that phenomenon “booklorn” or “bookreft”—the moment when you come to the end of a book and feel like you were just dumped in the worst way, in that you were not at all over with the relationship you made with the characters, and suddenly the author has decided you are done.

In fact, I made Jonas read it immediately, as soon as I finished. I got to watch his face while he read it, a smile hovering on the edge of his mouth with just a hint of twinkle. And I felt so blessed. Blessed that my busy high school boy can still be persuaded to read a book recommended by his mom and personal librarian. Blessed to share a really great book with this smart and funny person (my own child!), and doubly blessed to watch him enjoy it as I had. He called me when he finished, bookreft as I had been.

{Wait. Can I repeat that? My 14 year-old son called me when he finished his book to talk about it. I feel like I’m bragging a little bit here.}

Jonas said it was “not as good as The Fault in Our Stars [his favorite book], but better than Looking for Alaska,” both by John Green, one of our all-time favorite authors. High praise indeed.

goodbye, dear house.

SONY DSC SONY DSCSo this graphic represents the things that make our household go. All the chores and things that we did at our old house. I made it the summer before I started working full-time, just so we knew, all of us, what was really going on. 


Thank you for being our first home. We had a lot of fun laughing times with each other, and with our small and bigger children, inside your walls. Jonas grew  3-plus feet.  Sylvan grew from 22 inches to 58 inches. Sylvan and Jonas had the chicken pox. And Sylvan concurrently had the whooping cough, so we were quarantined inside your walls.
SONY DSC ~this is what happens when a bird hits the window (WordPress is being a jerk and I can’t center this)~

And we cooked and ate a lot of meals as a family. But when we first moved in, there was so much that you needed. I feel happy knowing that we left you in better shape than we found you. Remember the acres of terrible wallpaper? That really cheap awful plastic wallpaper that we peeled off of almost every wall? We replaced the horrible dark, cheap cabinets in the kitchen with sky blue cupboards and beautiful stone handles that Jake made from Lake Champlain stones. Or that ridiculous linen closet…with no shelves?!  A lot of the cosmetic changes we made had us wondering about the sanity and (lack of) aesthetic sense of the previous owners.
SONY DSCWe left you with a beautiful clothesline that dried so many loads of our laundry by means of the clean wind and warm sun, right next to the garden and the bluebirds and the field of hay. When I hung up the laundry, I loved looking at the early apple blossoms from the nearby tree, and later, at the bluest sky that limned every rosy apple like a halo. The clothesline was a haven: I could take a moment away from bickering people, do something productive and helpful and get a break.
We left you with a lovely chicken house, perfectly sited so that there was ample shade in the summer and a bit of protection from the winter winds. I made it with help because Sylvan loved watching chickens when he was about 1.5. It was my first construction project; he helped by dumping out the nails on the floor and climbing the ladder. Now there’s electricity to both the chicken house and the other shed; Jake did that. We put a new roof on to keep us all dry! There’s a compost now. And wow, did we have a lot of help from our family doing all of these things for you. 

SONY DSCRemember when the kitchen sink and dishwasher drained directly under the house and into the crawlspace? Totally 3rd world! And in the middle of the coldest part of winter, Jake and Ike and a friend crawled under that nasty place and connected those pipes to the other pipes that took wastewater away and added insulation under the kitchen floor where there had been none. Super awful job on both counts.
Built-in shelves. New paint. All of this brought you to a new level of practicality and beauty. You are the house I  lived in the longest in my life: eleven years! Sylvan was born at home just 18 days after we moved in, under the watchful eye of that bluebird.
So this past weekend, we said goodbye to you. Your new owners are adorable and young, sweet people. It was hard to hear the echoes in the empty rooms. There were so many last-minute details, random things that belonged nowhere but needed to be put somewhere. We had help again from our friends and family, those people who keep showing up for all the big events.

I had to go to work this week and it felt like I was trying to function at a normal level, but that I just had this big event that had completely consumed and exhausted me on a really deep level. Almost like having a baby. So I’m still recovering, sleeping so deeply every night (which is different than having a newborn). And no, we have not found our next house yet; we’re renting this winter (photos to follow).
I left the curtains in our bedroom that I made. They’re faded now. But maybe your new owners will use them until they have something better. And a very special spitball is still on the ceiling of the dining room, left by a very special babysitter. It “conveyed” with the property.

We’re taking with us a lot of wonderful memories with you. Thank you. With love.