Sunday, October 13, 2013

Views from My Back Yard

--Every so often, I meander back through old blog posts.  Occasionally, I'll choose a month and read all of the posts in that month.  More often, I have a topic in mind and want to know what I've already written about that topic, and that search tempts me to meander, and I often do.  I value these posts for so many reasons, but one is the capturing of daily life, all the details that would be lost without this blogging discipline.

--Are these blog posts valuable?  Yes.  I would still write them, even if I knew that no one would ever read them.  I do value their various potentials; many of my blog posts have led to essays and poems and publication possibilities.  But I also value them as a record of my life, which I understand may be important to no one but me.

--But with my advanced degrees, I also know that some of the writing we consider most mundane, like letter writing or keeping a journal, has great importance to scholars of all sorts.

--So let me record some observations from the past week, which may be mundane or profound or both.

--Our nation-wide network of schools is exploring ways to redesign our approach to English classes.  We're wrestling with questions which plague many schools:  should we require developmental/remedial classes?  If so, how many classes should be in the sequence?  If not, how do we help students who somehow made it through the K-12 system without acquiring basic skills like sentence structure?  We've been divided into teams which will develop possibilities, and then we'll field test some of them before adopting one.  Our teams are working together by way of conference calls. 

--Last week, I took part in a conference call from home.  It had been a very rainy morning.  I looked outside to see a woman riding her bike down the alley.  She was a vision of the color pink incarnate.  Her bike was pink, her raincoat was pink, she wore pink pants and a pink scarf around her blond hair, hair that seemed pinkish, surrounded by all that pink.  What a vision, all that pink against a backdrop of bright green, rain washed palm fronds.

--Last night, my spouse told me of a similar sight, a couple zooming down the alley on a red motorized scooter.  He said the woman wore a black evening dress, and she waved at him.  He thought they looked a bit like friends of ours who live in the neighborhood and asked if they'd bought a scooter.

--I saw a different set of friends in the neighborhood, friends who just had a baby in June.  On Friday, as I drove home for work, I saw them out for a stroll.  One of them pushed the baby stroller, while the other walked the dog.  They looked so picture perfect.

--I've been helping with a repair project in the back yard.  I am always amazed that despite decades of experience that should convince him otherwise, my spouse is unwavering in his belief that I have home repair skills which I just do not.  I can hardly hold the cordless drill, much less manage the task of connecting with a screw.

--But there are other things I can do.  I've been taking down old drywall.  I'm amazed at the various uses for a utility knife (cutting, prying).  I have a sense of awe at the focus of the drywall screw:  while chunks of drywall fall, it holds fast.

--I've been cutting insulation.  That, too, I can do.  It doesn't make me itch as much as it once did.  Has the nature of insulation changed?  Is my skin tougher?

--It's fascinating to consider how the light has shifted.  Three months ago, at 5 in the afternoon, we sat in the full sun by the pool.  Yesterday, the light at 5 was full of shadows.  We could still read outside, and would be able to read until 7 or so.  But I didn't worry about sunburn.

--I thought I would be helping with a pumpkin project at my church today.  We were expecting the truck to arrive today.  We would need many hands to get the pumpkins off the truck.  But there's a problem in the pumpkin patch in New Mexico (they grow pumpkins in New Mexico?); the truck hasn't even left yet.

--So, I have an unexpectedly free afternoon.  I will probably spend it helping with the repair project in the back yard.  But there should also be some time for reading by the pool, for enjoying a few last shreds of summer.

--It's easier to enjoy last shreds of summer, even as I yearn for pumpkins, by a swimming pool in my back yard.

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