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I have always been a volunteer. A volunteer for just about everything and anything. If my help is needed, I volunteer.

This year I volunteered to lead a creative writing workshop at the charter school that sponsors my grandson’s home schooling. I volunteered to do a short workshop, with about 6 meetings. They gave me a class that meets at 9 AM every Tuesday morning and has kids from 3rd grade to 5th grade. The kids show up when they want. It’s not mandatory. The abilities range from not being able to write a sentence to one girl who has written an entire book about dragons and castles and magic.

The school is not too far, about a 20 minute drive. However, it’s “over the river and through the woods,” meaning that I travel through quite a diverse terrain. And, like this morning, it is usually very foggy most of the way. Now we’ve entered our winter weather season here in Oregon and we have “winter mix” in the forecast today and “probable snow” next Tuesday.

So I don’t want to do this anymore. At what point do I tell them, I’m not doing it anymore? It’s not like they don’t have anyone. There is a teacher assigned to do it but, because I expressed an interest in teaching a workshop, she gave me her job. I’m sort of stuck. I don’t want to back down on a commitment but this is not working out for me. No one seems to even appreciate it over there, the adults, that is. I showed up one time only to find out that there were no classes because they were auditing and no one told me there would be no classes that week. When I email, I get no reply. When I call and leave voice mail, I get no reply.

Frustration doesn’t begin to cover this.

UPDATE

I got there this morning only to find that they ate canceling classes because the electricity is it in one of the buildings and the Internet is our in all buildings. So I came home, frustrated again. I’m done for the calender year because they have testing next week and the following week is a special holiday event. I guess that gives me time to decide. 

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I was driving home from Seattle on Friday and didn’t have an audio book ready to listen to. I turned on the radio but couldn’t tune in to anything while I was driving. I hit the “scan” button and all I got was static until, just at the point of giving up, I heard a song starting up. I immediately recognized the song. It brought a smile to my face as it reminded me of my brother, David.

All of my brothers were Raider fans, especially David and Richard. They were very enthusiastic fans and everyone knew it. When the Raiders played (we’re talking Oakland Raiders) David had a song cued on the radio, ready to go when the Raiders scored. And so, if you lived I David’s neighborhood, you didn’t have to listen to the game or watch it because you would know the score…every time the Raiders scored, David would play, at full volume, Another One Bites the Dust! The volume was so loud that the whole house shook. No one ever complained because he lived in Raider territory so it continued.

That’s a story that reminds me of one side of David, a side that makes me smile. So when I heard the beginning beats of the song, even before any lyrics, I knew the song and it made me smile and sing out loud every time that lyric came up…another one bites the dust!

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I was doing a lesson about Thanksgiving with Anderson. We watched some kid videos on the first Thanksgiving and about the pilgrims landing at Plymouth. We talked about what it means to be grateful or thankful for something and about what we each could list as what we are thankful for. He made a turkey out of construction paper and we listed something to be thankful for on each feather.

One thing stands out for me from this lesson that I can’t really discuss much with my six year old grandson. Not yet. But I will get there. What is it?

When the pilgrims arrived, they arrived sick. They spread their disease to the natives who had no resistance to any illnesses coming from Europe. So they died. A lot of them died. And what did Squanto do after most of his people died? He helped the pilgrims learn to hunt and plant things they could harvest for the winter. He helped them to learn how to fight the cold and snow that would come in the winter. And when the pilgrims decided to feast, the tribe came and brought them food.

And what did “we” do? We not only brought them diseases they could not fight but we also took their land and drove them to isolated and barren lands; lands that would bear no crops to sustain them; lands that were harsh. And it continues today as “we” take their sacred land and water and dignity. We take and take and take some more and forget the spirit of giving and helping that the natives showed “us” that first Thanksgiving.

Talk about a sickness.

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Last night, Thursday, just like on Wednesday night, there was a peaceful protest against the Trump win. On Wednesday night it was peaceful but after the protest, there was a lot of graffiti left by Trump supporters, including swastikas, on buildings. Then came last night. The peaceful group assembled in Pioneer Courthouse Square (we’re talking Portland, Oregon) and began their march. Somewhere along the way, outside groups joined in and hijacked the main protest. The outside groups included at least one anarchist group that has been active here in Portland in the past. There were other groups but, because I am not sure of who, I won’t name them. Suffice to say that they were not the peaceful group which began the evening.

It turned violent. It turned ugly. It turned destructive. There were fights. There was spray painting. There was smashing of windows. There was rock throwing. There were fires in the street. The police were severely outnumbered. The group was about 4,000 protesters against a tiny police force. Portland has a total of 500 police, however they weren’t all on duty because things had been so peaceful. So there were just a small number of police against the 4,000 and that made it far too dangerous for the police to go in and break it up. So they marched and destroyed and rallied and got brave.

I wasn’t even aware of it. I had checked in around 6 pm when everything was peaceful. I forgot all about it. Then when I went to bed around 11, I turned on the TV. Lo and behold! There it was. Live. My heart sank. I hate to see that. There is no reason for it. None at all. I was tuned in to the TV coverage. The protesters were very angry. They would not disperse even when riot police confronted them and warned them repeatedly. Even when they were attacked by rubber bullets they remained. It was ugly. It was scary.

Finally, TV coverage ended when the police began to arrest people and things seemed to be cooling off. That’s when I tuned off too. That’s when my heart ached. That’s when I began to write this. I had other plans for today’s blog post but they, like the peaceful protest, were hijacked by these violent anarchists and whatever other groups were out there. My heart is sad.

The only good thing is that the police and the media are aware that the groups that were responsible for the violence and the vandalism were not the original group. That means a lot to me. And I hope that it will become clear to people when it is reported in the media in a couple of hours.

Hopefully, I can gather myself enough to post later on what I was originally going to post.

Violence is not okay. Vandalism is not okay.

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If we were having coffee today, we would definitely be indoors. It is cold and wet outside.  I guess you might call it a typical November day in the Pacific Northwest. A bit of a brrrr day but not too much yet.

It seems that my weeks get busier and busier. This week it was once again busy with the daughters. I’ve been going over to my youngest daughter’s house twice a day to feed her cats. She’s on a business trip. It’s not far, her house that is, but with traffic, a round trip is about 50 minutes plus I have to spend some time there waiting for the kitties to eat. I can’t leave food out when I leave so I really need to sit and make sure they all eat and put away any food they didn’t eat. So that trip ends up being a minimum of and hour and a half.

Then there was yesterday. Last week I told you she was borrowing my car because hers went out and it is not cost effective to put in the money for a new transmission. So she had several possibilities this week. One in Seattle, 3.5 hours away. Another was in Los Angeles which would have been tough because she can’t take time off from work to get over there and back with the  car. It’s a two day trip in each direction. That was the one her dad and step mom wanted her to get (they are paying for it) but in the end it fell through because the woman who owned it was elderly and died without signing the title over to her son and her son found out that he can’t sell it until it all goes through probate and is officially his car so no deal. The latest deal is across the river from Oregon, in Washington. It’s across the river from Hood River. My older daughter, the boys, and I went out there yesterday to see the car and leave a deposit. Now we wait for the cashier’s check to arrive by Fed Ex so we can go pay the remainder and get the car back to Portland.

The trip, while long (about 170 miles round trip which took us forever with the boys) was actually quite nice. Yesterday was a beautiful day, dry, sunny, a tiny bit of briskness in the air but nice. We stopped at an apple orchard to pick apples. It is their last weekend of apple picking for the season so all varieties were 59 cents a pound. We picked and bought 47 pounds of apples for about $27. We’ll be eating apples for a couple of months!

Here are some pictures from the trip yesterday:

So what is new in your neck of the woods? Weather? Travel? Local color? Please tell.

#WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly blog linkup hosted by Diana at Part Time Monster Blog. Come take a look and see what’s happening!

nanopoblano1

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I love participating in NaNoWriMo. We all do or we wouldn’t do it. However, each year it gets harder and harder for me. It’s not just the age. It’s the Mama Factor that seems to get increasingly bigger and bigger.

The Mama Factor? All the things that the mamas have to do to get through the day to write a the 1667 words a day that will get them to goal on November 30. When I first started doing NaNoWriMo, my two oldest kids were out of the house. The youngest was in high school but was home schooled so she was constantly home and we took a lot of day trips and excursions to keep her busy and learning new things. (That was when she developed her love of photography. She’s now a photographer. So those were important days.) It gave me time to write. Yes, it put a damper on my writing time but I got it done. It was possible. I used to wonder about the moms that had little ones at home. How could they write? It would have been a problem for me, although when my kids were little, I lived in a community where I had a lot of support. I’m pretty sure I would have been able to leave the kids for play dates with a number of people so that I could have writing time. It would have been done.

Now, however, my kids are all grown. I live alone. There is no husband to demand my time. Yet, it gets harder and harder every year. Let me tell you about my day on this year’s Day Two. I had to get up and out of the house early to drive Susie (daughter number 2) to the airport where she was flying to Colorado Springs for a business trip. I got to her house and she wasn’t ready. It seems she figured over night that we didn’t have to leave so early so she slept in a bit. I didn’t. I didn’t know about the intentional delay. I finally got her to the airport and then had to drive home to watch the two grandboys so their mom could go do a volunteer shift for Gleaners. I got there and they were still asleep so I waited and eventually came home for about an hour while they woke up and got ready to go do errands. I had to play catch up on a few things so I didn’t get to write my 1667. In fact, I didn’t write a single word for my NaNo project. Then off we went for the day (now a half day) of errands. On our very last stop, I got the kids out of the store while their mom was in line because they were starting to misbehave. I got them to the car and strapped into their car seats. When I was getting myself in, I misjudged the distance and smacked my head on the side of the car roof. I hit so hard that I almost passed out. Instant headache of astronomical proportions. My jaw felt like I had dislocated it. There were stars. There was almost blackness. Eventually, we got home but I had to wait at their house because my daughter was going to use my car for another errand and I was going to stay with the boys. About an hour later, she decided not to go out on that errand and I came home. Headache in tact. Jaw pain diminishing. But I’m pretty sure I have a concussion. I ended up sleeping for the entire time from about 5:30 until 10:30. Now I’m writing this and I’m falling asleep again so there will be no writing tonight. I guess maybe I should start counting my blog posts to my word count. Nah. I don’t think I will go that route.

How does this fit into the Mama Factor? Well, it seems that there are certain mamas who just don’t have the time to write. They have obligations that keep growing as their family grows. As much as they try, there is no time for their needs and wants; only for those of their family. Those moms are the ones that perform a miracle every November when they are able to validate their 50,000 words by midnight on November 30th.

No 1667 for me on Day Two. We’ll see if Day Three allows me to write but I will say that while Daughter Number Two is on that business trip, I will be driving to her house to feed her cats. And they have an ant problem so I can’t just fill the dishes and leave. I have to stay while the cats eat and make sure they all eat. This will involve about an hour and a half twice a day, including drive time. I might get a few words written while I wait for los gatos to eat. Might. Might not. Hopefully 1667 will happen tomorrow so I will only have to get caught up by one day over the weekend. If I fall too far behind, I won’t catch up.

So if you know a Mama doing NaNoWriMo, be kind. Offer to help her out or if you can’t help her out, at least don’t be an additional burden to her. Don’t feed the Mama Factor.

nanopoblano1

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Goodbye to NaNoWriMo for another year!  Yay. This was a really tough November.

At the beginning of the month, my attention was captured by a few Facebook posts in the various NaNoWriMo groups. Some were really funny and some were sad. Most were humorous. Some just “uniquely ordinary.” I thought I might make a few posts highlighting each variety. Then stuff started to happen and I was sick and I pretty much bowed out of the FB NaNoWriMo groups til the end of the month.  So those posts never happened. So…fresh fodder!

The first was sad and made me think a lot:

“I’m withdrawing from this year’s NaNoWriMo to work on my marriage.” It made me think about the individual (whom I don’t know) and their life and I figured they had their priorities straight and silently wished them luck.

This next one falls in the category of “excuses, excuses,” not to mention just plain stupidity:

“I was just about to start my NaNoWriMo project when I spilled my coffee all over my laptop. My keyboard is now fried.”

Then came the winner. I read it late at night when I was still up trying to get some writing done because my daughter had needed me for most of the day and night and I had not done any writing. I guess you could say it hit the spot. It had me laughing and depositing Sprite Zero all over my screen (thank goodness not on the keyboard!). It’s written by a great grandmother participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time, Annie Aronson (she said I could use her name and her words):

“Am I the only NaNo writer with rude, insensitive family members who don’t give a rip about the importance of this month? I have two, in particular, that don’t care a fig if I’m successful at this or not, and I’m ready to end the ongoing emotional abuse. Just because they’re younger than I am–hell, who isn’t?–and related to me, they think they can steal my word writing time. I’m going to set them both straight today, just as soon as they wake up from their naps. I don’t care if they bat their big blue eyes or pucker their little pouty lips! Grandma isn’t going to give in this time! I’m going to go and have a stiff drink and prepare myself to put a 3 year old and a 4 year old in their places. I’m gonna kick butt and take no prisoners.”

And with that I bid November 2015 a not so fond farewell! And to NaNoWriMo, same time next year!

 

 

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