My toes haven’t been in the dirt lately, as I’ve taken to wearing shoes when I go out there, but I do still have slightly dirty fingernails. Happily, for I’ve been holed up with a cold and have had to portion out my energy for only important and physically undemanding tasks–drives and pickups, answering emails, simple household tasks, working on job leads, sewing. But yesterday in the late afternoon I got out to pick tomatoes and peppers, pull up some blighted plants, and thin the Swiss chard and blanch and freeze the extra. Only my husband and I will eat it unless I layer it into lasagne–I’ve come to like it so much that I steam down a huge hank while I fry my morning eggs, potatoes and sausage, add salt and vinegar, and eat like a filet mignon–it’s that tender and nutritious.
While I was squatting to weed around the spinach, a red-breasted nuthatch and a chickadee landed on a nearby spray of sunflower heads to dine, retreating periodically to the neighbors’ willow border to pipe merry (or warning) tunes. I’ve been missing my hummingbird encounters, though not regretting the decline in cabbage butterfly sightings. Ebbs and flows, and this is the season of the slugs, who rasp away at strawberries, lettuce, and of course their regular wild plant fare.
I rarely get sick, not yet being so immersed in the throng of public life that I’m unable to regularly wash off the germs that come with it. I may seem a careless housekeeper and not get every last smudge of dirt from my elbows every time, but I’m diligent about getting rid of invisible smears of germs that might make people sick. This time I got careless and shared the family toothpaste tube even though someone had the sniffles, so I caught the cold too. I guess after all this time I was due for the full version, with fatigue, runny nose, aching head, hacking, and hot flashes. Though the reason for the latter is debatable.
Like the approach of labor in pregnancy, impending illness stimulates me to be extra productive–I don’t want to slump on a couch full of unsorted laundry or feverishly stare at bunny-sized dust bunnies by the base boards, after all, so I like to try to clear as much away as I can, and make sure there are a few easy meals on hand for the family. I corralled my reading materials, some research I wanted to do, and had no commitments to attend events, so that was all good; I would only give myself a few days to get through the worst. I upped my Wellness Formula herbal tablets dosage and finished up what work I could. Reading and writing, working on my daughter’s long-awaited horse quilt, and listening along with my son’s Librivox recording of Robinhood stories kept my mind off of my ailment between naps. The child of mine who lately has had the most difficulty being cooperative and sympathetic was the most attentive of all, and enjoyed “doting on me,” bringing me ginger tea, saying yes to my requests and not asking for the usual nightly back rub.
This is my last day for home sick leave, then it’s time for me to pick up what substitute teaching jobs I can, and/or get busy on more substantial projects. Would have liked to help in high school ceramics class posted last week. There’s not much else available for me yet, as teachers have established preferred sub lists from last year and I’m not on those yet. I sent out some emails to generate interest and hope that will bear fruit this week. I’m limited to one district this year, since the others have taken the flexibility out of their HR system by adopting an online application system, one of the requirements for which, recent observation-based references, I have not been able to meet. The district that took me back waived that, so that’s my “in,” unless I can arrange volunteer teaching sessions closer to home and get three different staff to observe and fill out the forms. In some ways I like going out of my own district, where I’d feel less free to write about my experiences. Maybe I’ll keep a separate, private blog for that purpose when the time comes. Or find a way to keep that blog so anonymous, so professional in tone and my stories so impossible to track down as to players and settings, that it will be acceptable for public consumption. In the name of positive dialogue, creative tension, accountability, and that all-important, much touted in eduspeak, critical thinking. Living by example for students to follow, right? Show them we love to read, show them we really use math, and show them that we think and communicate toward the improvement of a democratic society and better public institutions, right? Who could argue with that?