Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Some good news

My oak tree is still dead, but I got a more reasonable bid ($4800) and a little home equity loan because otherwise it was going on a credit card and I can't have that happening. It's coming down June 24 and it makes me sad but I'm excited about what to do with a sunny backyard.

I have the rest of today and then 2.5 days left of school. Most kids didn't come back after Memorial Day. Right now I have two students in my first block class--and no computers, no books, nothing on the walls--they are each coloring and listening to music on their phones and yes, that is what happens the last week of school.

Maeve has been having a hard time with some friend stuff but this past weekend she had a grade school friend over and it was so nice. She said to me, "I'm so glad I'm not just sad up in the room on my phone tonight" and my heart kind of broke but I was happy too.

I've paid off her braces.

I've been binge-watching "The Great Interior Design Challenge" which is like Project Runway if the judges were nicer but also there are English houses!

I get to loop with my kids--and keep my partner after all! This taught me two things: 1) our boss really appreciates us and I think it mattered when we presented her with our reasons to stay together, and 2) worrying about this shit gets me nowhere. Right now my partner is all worried about her schedule next year but I haven't borrowed that trouble. I am over here, knitting a washcloth and packing up the room and figuring out how to show a movie during my next class but I can't worry about all that anymore because I'm learning that it will all change by the time the shouting's done and I'll have to live with it either way.

My parsley and cilantro reseeded themselves and came back on their own. And somehow, several lettuce plants. My garden is happy this year so far.

I saw "Come From Away" and cried the whole time. Such a good story.

So that's the update. Mostly good news, at least the balance of it.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Sophia's cultural exchange continues

We are 14 hours apart so I was well into my day when Sophia woke up in her tatami mat room where no shoes or suitcases are allowed. She is staying in a guesthouse run by nuns.

Here is their backyard:

And here is what Sophia has learned this morning: "Google Translate is helpful with the overly complicated toilets." Hence:

Sophia's Day One Notes

Sophia is in Kyoto. I can't believe someone so close to me is so far away right now, but if I think too much about that I will start to cry and instead I'm going to post Sophia's note from day one:

Day One

Got up at 4 Central Time, going to bed at 21:30 Japan time with only like two hours of nap in between (I have been up like 26 hours). Shortish plane ride to SFO was pretty chill. Long plane ride to KIX was considerably less so.

Airplane food is not good.

Japan has mountains! Like, I knew this but it never clicked.

I like Sisters and the people who work for them.

The two English native people who are helping us out are a guy from New Zealand named Alistair and an American named ____, who I am pretty sure is a leperchaun in disguise. Just trust me on this.

Japan is super quiet.

Our taxi driver made small talk with us about Catholicism. English was not his first language. Dr. Bohac is not good at slowing down. It was an interesting conversation.

I don't think I have seen anyone wearing clothes that reveals their knees.

The roads are so thin and the cars more boxy and short.

Their airport is so much more relaxed. Customs took less time than a TSA check in would.

Toilets are far too complicated.

The water tastes a bit like seafood.

Friday, May 10, 2019


My oak tree is dead.

My house was built in 1926. The oak tree was probably already established at that point. I'd guess close to 150 years old just by how many people it takes to wrap our bodies around it (Girl Scouts rule of thumb for deciduous trees: one person hugs the tree, 50 years old. Two people to hug around the tree, 100. Three people, 150).

The former owners had it trimmed back but the people they hired were butchers and topped the tree terribly.

Last year the tree seemed sick when it leafed out, but my forester friend John said to give it a few years, it could come back with some TLC.

This spring, a branch 8 inches in diameter and 15 feet long landed on my roof in the middle of a thunderstorm. The tree barely leafed out. It looked bad. I called some tree services who confirmed my fears. The tree's main trunk had hypoxylon canker. No bueno. The tree was suffering and a fungus was helping it die.

I got some quotes. $5600 from one service, $8750 from another. The tree has to come down and my yard, the actual grass area of my yard that is not a detached garage or the house proper, is only about 30 feet by 15 feet. There is no way to let nature take its course gradually as if we had a giant oak in the woods out back...it is the main feature of my yard and it is a dying hazard.

In addition, my boss offered me the terrible choice of either leaving my kids behind and not looping with them to 8th grade, instead staying on the 7th grade floor which is being gutted by teacher and support staff attrition, or go to 8th grade with my students and leave my (sometimes truly annoying but effective) partner teacher behind to be partnered, each of us, with weaker versions of the other.

It's not a choice. My partner told me it's the price we pay for doing an excellent job this year--the boss wants to spread the wealth either to different teams or to different kids. It sucks.

And my allergies are the worst they've ever been and it's already settled into a brutal cough that I'm afraid will become a predatory infection.

But Sophia went to prom for the second time this year, this time with a group of friends to one of the local boys' schools. Maeve finished her first season of lacrosse this afternoon happy and feeling successful. Leo is seeing the Avengers movie and staying the night at a friend's. So it's not all lousy news!

The tree will come down this summer. I will adjust to whatever change the next school year holds, and each school year is like a separate life (ala Mali) so I know as this one dies, all I can do is help birth the next. And I'm young and strong so pneumonia probably won't catch me. Here's hoping.