The Count

Actually, I’ve always preferred the Cookie Monster, but as of late, The Count keeps reappearing from my childhood.

I love countdowns. There’s something about anticipation of an exciting time ahead; not at all about wishing time away. To me, it’s about relishing each day up until said day. Reminiscing why each day is special in it’s own right. The joyful glee in reminding coworkers just how many days are left until the much needed Christmas break. Reminding people it’s “Almost Friday”, when we’ve just barely made it through a Monday from you-know-where. Chocolate advent calendars. Only one Community Market left. Three more weeks until Summer Markets. Only five days until Graduation.

And so on.

People keep asking me what my big plans are for retirement. I have none. How exciting is that?! With only six school days left; six of the most intense school days of the year, between actual graduation, and then graduation follow up, and normal office clean up and inventory, this year added on office/career pack-up, I haven’t had time to think of the “after-life”.

So I’m doing my best to relish in each day, not wishing any of it away.

This week was exam week and graduation rehearsals.

My last one.

As I encouraged the few to get the last couple of outstanding assignments completed, offered kleenexes to the ones that were so overtired and stressed, gave out grad cards through the day, made the last minute phone calls to a couple of prize donors, navigated the obstacle course outside my office from Indoor Field Day, rushed to get my salad made for the Grad Picnic; I sat in my office last night, relishing the day. I said a quiet prayer for this group of grads, as all the classes before them, recognizing they leave with some of the same fears and struggles, and yet hearts full of anticipation, as I do. This is only the end of this chapter.

Just for that day, I chose to relish in the quiet conversation with a particular grad as he read through my handwritten note, nodding his head, as he took in the heartfelt wishes for his future, and the warm hug acknowledging the support. That single moment summed up what this is all about. Thank you, kind sir.

Yes, we all made it to Friday. This weekend will see more grad celebrations, and Baccalaureate. The countdown continues.

And today…the sun is shining!

Advertisements

I scream, I scream!!

I was quite upset when I learned my favorite flavour of ice cream was no longer being made. Peanut Butter Fudge Crunch has been my “go-to treat” after a bad day, or ice cream road trip. At first, I thought Harbour Gifts just wasn’t carrying my favorite flavour anymore, and had a hard time believing Bernadine when she said they just couldn’t get it anymore.

Come on now? Surely, I’m not the only fan?

I really did want to scream!!

Today, I tried something new, found at our local Independent Grocer.

“Peanut Butter and Chocolate with Chocolate Fudge Crackle”!

Thank you, Ahmet… you may have just made my day complete.

My Week.

My Summer!

Heather and Other Heather!

When I joined the staff of Grand Manan Community School (then High School) to teach, I quickly made friends with another Heather. Respecting the established pecking order, I soon became “Other Heather”, as Heather Ingalls would maintain the top spot. Throughout our careers, whether it was serving together as Professional Development Chairs, Education Support Services Team, or Partners in Crime with our group of friends (those shenanigans will remain secret), I humbly remained Other Heather, and followed her lead. Occasionally, we would get a confusing email message, that we learned after was meant for the “Other Heather”. Good times!

Actually, some pretty great times!

When I started thinking of retiring, I thought it would be great to retire in this same year as the three amigos, Melinda and Heather. Then I started thinking, maybe I should wait one more year; then I could be the ONLY Heather, after 30 years of being the “other” one. What a foreign concept!!

As Spring wore on, I decided that was silly, and I would follow suit.

Of course, it doesn’t end there. Heather had introduced me to Philip back in the day (Thanks, I think?!), and we know how that story went! When I got to meet Philip’s family, imagine my surprise to meet another Heather. Soon, I learned there was “Our Heather”, and “Philip’s Heather”. Once again, I became the Other Heather. Outside of the Brown family, I was the “Other Heather Brown”. We’ve shared some pretty great times, too, but now I am realizing I don’t think we have any pictures together. We’ll have to rectify that this summer.

How exciting this past weekend, to be honoured at the NBTA’s Retiring Teachers Luncheon. With the Other Heather! Somehow, I feel like the rest of my life will be spent being Other Heather. But that is ok…the Other Heathers are pretty awesome women, too!

Too tired for sunrise?

Everyone knows how much I love sunrises.

Especially out to Swallowtail.

Today is a Professional Development day, and most teachers have travelled to Moncton for the day. Even the EAs and custodians are travelling to the mainland. This year, I decided to stay put on the island.

One of the bonuses of PD days, is I don’t have to rush out the door as quickly, since I don’t have to be there for bus duty.

I decided last night, I could stay up a little later and watch a favorite tv show. Sadly, I continually kept falling asleep. The final straw was when the remote slipped out of my hand, and made a large “clunk” on the floor, waking me with quite a start.

So off to bed I went. I had just started drifting off when I thought I heard the plane. The airport is just a little ways behind our house, so it’s not unusual to hear it. But it is a bit more unusual to hear it late at night. I immediately said a prayer, in case it was a hospital run. A prayer for the passenger, their family, for the pilots, for the ambulance and hospital staff. Then a quick prayer for our students, and grads in particular. It’s a long weekend. Graduation is approaching, and there have been lots of buggies our tonight. Even if it wasn’t a hospital run, I am always reminded to send a prayer that direction when I hear the engines.

I tried to get back to sleep. I must have, but awoke at 3am. I tossed, and tried to back to sleep. By 3:30, I head for the couch. I see Wilson on the porch, but I pretend not to see him. If I let him in, he’ll just start meowing for food. And I’m too tired to go all the way back to the kitchen.

I’m awake again at 4:15. Parker has jumped on my quilt. She’s purring contently, but I push her off, as she has hit an uncomfortable pressure point in my side. I am tired. I drift off.

5:00 I awake, my mind starts planning an excursion to Swallowtail. I check online for the actual time for sunrise. I get up and peer outside. Yes, there are stars. Looks like a little cloud cover. A good combination for a colourful morning. But I am tired. So tired. I drift off.

5:45 I hear hubby starting to stir, preparing to leave for the boat. If I go right now, I can catch the “pre-sunrise” magic. But I am so tired. I drift off.

6:45 seriously? I missed the sunrise?! I am so tired.

No, I am just plain weary. It has been a challenging week for this caregiver.

Then I get this picture in messenger.

I am so blessed. And soooo very tired.

It brought me to tears. My soul was in desperate need of the sunrise this morning. And I just couldn’t do it. I am so grateful for that kid that knows how to lift my spirit when I need it most. I love him to the moon and back. And to the sun and back.

The Rankin’s song has popped in my mind. I know it will be an “earworm” all day. And that is ok.

We Rise Again; The Rankin Family

When the waves roll on over the waters
And the ocean cries
We look to our sons and daughters
To explain our lives
As if a child could tell us why
That as sure as the sunrise
As sure as the sea
As sure as the wind in the trees
We rise again in the faces
of our children
We rise again in the voices of our song
We rise again in the waves out on the ocean
And then we rise again
When the light goes dark with the forces of creation
Across a stormy sky
We look to reincarnation to explain our lives
As if a child could tell us why
That as sure as the sunrise
As sure as the sea
As sure as the wind in the trees
We rise again in the faces
of our children
We rise again in the voices of our song
We rise again in the waves out on the ocean
And then we rise again
We rise again in the faces
of our children
We rise again in the voices of our song
We rise again in the waves out on the ocean
And then we rise again

Comfort Food

“Some foods are so comforting, so nourishing of body and soul, that to eat them is to be home again after a long journey. To eat such a meal is to remember that, though the world is full of knives and storms, the body is built for kindness. The angels, who know no hunger, have never been as satisfied.” 
 Eli Brown, Cinnamon and Gunpowder

There’s something about a bowl of homemade soup or chowder, especially on a cold, misty day. When I came across the above quote, it said exactly what my heart was feeling.

Recently, I had picked up some fresh haddock from the local fish truck on the corner. I still had some in the freezer, but I knew a pound of fresh would be perfect for a pot of chowder. As I was chopping up the potatoes, my mind wandered back in time. Nine years, actually; when Dalton and I had been living at Auntie Joyce’s, while he was undergoing treatment. So many days, we had driven into Fredericton, a half hour away, to spend the day at DECH, so he could undergo his latest chemotherapy, blood transfusion or spinal tap. They were long days at the hospital, but they were made bearable by great paediatric nurses, and newly made friends; families who had been going through the same regiment, some who we had met at IWK. At the end of the day, if it was one of the “good” days, we would get to leave the hospital, and drive back to my aunt’s. On the not-so-good days, I’d be making up my fold up cot to stay the night in Dalton’s room. Neither one of us looked forward to the menu choices for supper, but on those days, neither one of us had much of an appetite, either.

Flashback to our first month at IWKI had little appetite then, too. I bought a couple of boxes of Liptons cup-a-soup, trying hard to convince myself that they would provide me just enough nourishment to carry on. But there was nothing about those mugs that said comfort. A cold, stiff box, with dehydrated vegetables and noodles. Mmmm.

Now it’s early spring, with some dampness in the air. Frosted windshields in the morning are few and far between. Grey clouds overhead will soon give way to blue skies. I finish up preparing the chowder ingredients, and let the pot start to simmer. Aunt Joyce would often have a pot of seafood chowder waiting for us as we returned “home” from one of the good days. Dalton and I would both be so tired, all we wanted to do was crawl into our jammies and finish the day in front of the tv. With a bowl of homemade chowder. It always hit the spot.

While I‘m waiting for the chowder to finish, I pick up the phone and dial my aunt’s number. I needed to thank her for those many warm bowls… they gave us nourishment, they provided warmth through the cold nights, but more importantly, they warmed our souls and gave us encouragement to get through the next day. She hardly remembers those pots, but they’re etched in my memory forever. I hear her smile on the other end of the line.

And my heart is warm again, as I eat my bowl of chowder.

Magic of new beginnings

I always find it interesting how some authors stand the test of time, and can speak truth and wisdom well into the future.

Meister Eckhart, from the 13th century, is one of them. I’ve only read a little of him, mainly as quoted by other favorite authors.

Last summer, I was shopping in Michael’s for a new agenda. They usually have a great selection of Happy Planners, so I was quite disappointed this particular day, to find only a small selection. As always, Michael’s can be quite overpriced, unless you remember to bring your emailed 40% off coupon (I’m so glad they now have an app for their coupons!). Such was this day. I came across this one, that spoke to me right away. Simple, pretty design, a quote from a favorite author, and a coupon!

(Side note… http://www.meandmybigideas.com/create365-thehappyplanner)

The quote seemed appropriate, as our family was heading into some upcoming changes. Actually, a LOT of changes. By the time January rolled around, I would head back to school, along with my Happy Planner. So much for outstretched weeks with various volunteer activities and visits to island beaches. Now I was filling the days with various team meetings, business orders, and lesson plans.

But I got to thinking about retirement again. How I longed for those spontaneous brunch dates, morning Bible studies and early morning hikes to Swallowtail. Should I, shouldn’t I? One week, I was definitely waiting until next January. The next week, I was thinking June would be mighty fine. January. June. January. June.

I finally made by decision.

And suddenly you know it’s time to start something new, and trust the magic of beginnings. ~ Meister Eckhart

Yes, June is a mighty fine month.

Mainly, because the daisies are just coming out, and it’s our anniversary.

And July will be a new beginning!

from my kitchen table…

It’s a day off school. A day to catch up on school work and a “bonus day” to get some things checked off the To Do list; marking (as always), and lesson planning.

One of my favorite things about a day off school…whether it’s a storm day, or a holiday, is time spent in my kitchen. On weeknights, that means it’s a chore…supper has to be prepared. Once in awhile, I’m fortunate to have Philip look after that; other times, we’re both running in different directions, and hope there is something in the fridge left over from yesterday’s meal.

But on days off from school…there’s a certain joy to be able to cook or bake.

Today, the day before Dalton’s birthday, this includes a chocolate fudge birthday cake! While it cools, I’ll get the ganache and peanut butter sauce prepared to add just before the birthday supper. At our house, birthdays mean you get to choose the birthday menu, so yesterday I took him to the Independent for shopping ideas. At first, it was going to be mussels (I think he’s chosen that three times before), then it went to tacos (chosen a couple of times before), but then he decided he wanted to BBQ. Dad is famous for his Christmas Eve BBQ ribs, so why not? That means dad can cook. We still had sirloin steaks in the freezer from a friend’s butcher shop up river, so it was decided. Oh, and don’t forget the potato nachos (thinly sliced baked potatoes smothered in Epicure’s Cheese Chives Bacon dip, bacon bits and grated cheddar). And garlic bread! And can we still do mussels?!

Good thing I have today off, because that would be a lot for a school night!

I also like spending these days making soup, or something I can have for school lunches and suppers in the coming week. Burger and sausage was on sale this week, so I planned on getting it all cooked ahead for other weeknight meals. Lasagna. Spaghetti sauce. Pizza. And today, Beef Nacho Soup.

The soup turned out delicious!

It’s very easy to make, and easy to stretch if unexpected company shows up.

Beef Nacho Soup

1 1/2 -2 pounds burger, and/or Italian sausage, cooked & drained

2-3 tbsp Epicure’s nacho cheese dip seasoning

1/2 onion, green, red pepper diced

Add:

1 large can kidney beans, rinsed

1 large can no-sodium diced tomatoes

1 large can corn niblets

4 cups Epicure beef broth, prepared

Simmer for 10 minutes. Add 2-3 handfuls of shaped, uncooked pasta.

Cover and return to a boil, 10-15 minutes.

Serve with crushed nacho chips and grated cheese sprinkled on top.

Freezes well!

Now to find my Tupperware containers and get this mess cleaned up!

And a nap.