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Friday, March 31, 2017

Day Thirty-One of Thirty-One: All Mine

We always tell each other, don't take things for granted. Be grateful for all you have. Always be brave. We say these things to each other. All of us, well, most of humanity. We mostly live by these rules. We say these things and as much as we mean it we sometimes forget. Sometimes we get a bit caught up or caught off guard by life. 

All month long I sliced mostly about things we lost in the fire. I threw in a slight deviation here and there while sticking to my "not my" theme. What I never said was that there was a lot more that could have been lost in those wee hours of the night back in November of 2016. I didn't mention all the "what if" statements I've wondered about over the past several months. I certainly never think, gosh, what if I could have saved that mug or what if I could have snapped a quick picture of the wall in my kitchen with all the little growth marks on it. I never think of those, "what if" statements. It's the horrifying "what if" that I think about. 

Regardless, I'm lucky. I'm grateful. I'm brave. For all these reasons and so many more. My amazing parents, in-laws, sister, and all my extended family beyond. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Day Thirty of Thirty-One: Not My

This was the first year I followed a thread through my SOLSC posts. I was really hesitant to try it. I wasn't sure I could do it. Could I keep it going? I knew it would be hard for a few reasons. In the past, I was able to treat the challenge as a way to force myself to notice. To be a witness to my life and record the little, the big, and the invisible. This year, following the "not my" thread through each post, was a new challenge. I think I will really appreciate having recorded all these bits of life that are not mine. I might have forgotten otherwise and it is a further testament to the importance of writing down the small, the big, and the invisible.

When we ask ourselves to be a witness we see all. We reflect more deeply and the fog of our day to day dissipates. Visibility improves. I not only understand myself a little better but I understand everyone around me a little better too.

As I wrote it all down, you became a witness to my life and I became one of yours.

I have appreciated the journey and tomorrow's slice will not be a "not my." Thirty days of thinking about what is no longer is enough. Thirty-one seems like a fresh number. A turning point you might say. Here's looking to tomorrow. The last day or maybe the first day.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day Twenty-Nine of Thirty-One: Not My Nest

The other day I could hear a clattering below our bedroom window. It sounded like something was banging into the drain spout. I asked my children what they thought the noise was. They knew immediately.

"Oh, it's that bird that lives in the nest by the back door."

I had to go look of course. I haven't attempted to get a closer look yet but it appears to be empty, no eggs. I snapped a picture and thought about how much work goes into making a nest. Strand by strand. Carefully placed. Sometimes a sprig of tinsel here and there. It's not my nest but it did inspire a poem.

With bits of green,
brown, and gray

Pieces of earth
painstakingly placed

Carefully woven
with a mix of glitz

Tucked safe and tight
nestled by brick

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day Twenty-Eight of Thirty-One: Not My Nine-Year-Old

When did this happen? When did this little girl become double digits? Shawn and I were talking about it last night and realizing as we talked that in less time than we have known her she will likely be moving on. Starting an independent life of her own.

As I watched her last night decorating her cupcakes for school I could see that independence blooming. She's grown so much over the past year. Her confidence is no longer in short supply. She brushes her hair on a more regular basis (this is a big deal). Her style is all her own. The creativity inside her continues to make its mark and some day I am sure will make a splash in a big way.

She's not my nine-year-old anymore. :)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Day Twenty-Seven of Thirty-One: Not My House

Today I was teaching a poetry lesson on personification. I talked about taking an existing poem and just changing the perspective.
Did you write a poem about the sunrise? How do the trees tell the poem? How about the sun?

I also explained that personification is a great way to explore sensory details. Thinking about the five senses +1 (emotional feeling) and giving objects or non-human things senses can help when trying to add personification to a poem.

Later I was thinking about what I might personify in a poem. I thought about my poor empty house. As I started to write about it, I realized I wasn't personifying it quite like I expected but instead writing it a letter of sorts.

I sometimes wonder
if you miss us.
I feel bad
you were left behind.


We are okay.
Don't worry
but we miss you.
We'll visit again soon.

So, I decided to try again and write something truly from the house's perspective. I realized that I couldn't do it. It's a little too hard to think about the house as a person. Then I thought about how they are going to tear it down and I thought the house might wonder if that was going to happen. It might ask. I didn't want to tell the house. In a weird way, putting that in a poem would be like admitting the house was dead and I'm not quite ready to do that. I'm not ready to tell the house.

This place, it is not my house. It is a home. It is comfortable. My house is not jealous. It is not human. But I do sometimes feel its feelings. Its sadness. I feel it for the house. I am my house.

This is not my house. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Day Twenty-Six of Thirty-One: Not My Cabinet

My great-grandmother, Edith, was quite a character. When I was still living at home we would go every weekend to take her out to lunch and run different errands. She lived about thirty minutes from our house in a nursing home. She was a very observant lady who, even though she could barely see, didn't seem to miss a beat. Edith was always up for a trip or a good chicken wing. 

Because she spent a lot of time alone, she had a lot of time to think and watch the Lawrence Welk Show. We would often know when it was on because she would call to tell us the channel. Surely we would want to watch too. She would also call quite frequently to ask my mom about various items.

"Do you know where you put my salt and pepper shakers?"

There were so many things she wondered about and she would often give my mom directions as to which cabinet or drawer the item had once belonged to. I imagine it gave her a reason to call but I also think she honestly wondered about all her "stuff." 

I have a better appreciation for that wonder now. I sit here, all the time, my mind might be on any number of things but I still picture my house. I picture my cookbooks every Sunday because I would often grab one or two from the cabinet above my stove when I was making my meal plan for the week. Rarely did I actually pick a new recipe but I really liked looking through my cookbooks. I imagine my great-grandma also pictured her home and exactly where those salt and pepper shakers used to be. 

The cabinet above the stove here is empty. It's not my cabinet. I look forward to rebuilding my cookbook collection and filling up a cupboard with new memories one day. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Day Twenty-Five of Thirty-One: Not My Shoes

Back on day twelve I sliced about "not my style." I was ready to break into spring weather wear and mentioned the fact that I haven't purchased any sandals and I still only have one pair of shoes.

Well, now I don't even have those!
Elliot, my eleven year-old, and I have have the same size feet at the moment. He must, at all times, have two pairs of tennis shoes. We have learned we just always need a backup. This was one of the first purchases we made for the kids. He had one pair of shoes for a couple of days until I quickly bought another pair remembering the day would come when he would need a back-up for whatever reason.

Last week, one of his shoes got caught on the leg of a desk and tore a hole right in the side. He came home with packaging tape all over his foot and shoe. Enter back-up shoes! I was so proud that I had gotten them and wouldn't have to run out that night to get shoes.

The next day Elliot and my husband were playing soccer in the back yard. The ball went out on the ice covered channel. Without going into that story, Elliot's shoes got completely soaking wet. We put the shoes down in the basement near the heater in hopes they would be dry by morning. I was sure they would be.

It was a typical run around like crazy get this, grab that morning.
Elliot goes to put his shoes on and says, "Um, mom, my shoes are still really wet."
WHAT? A moment of panic, then I remember we have the same size foot!
"Here, try these on."
"These are perfect! They are actually kind of comfortable."


That night, as I watched him run around in the backyard I realized I didn't have shoes anymore. I'm pretty sure he's claimed them and knowing him, he'll need that back-up pair anyway.

Not my shoes, anymore. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Day Twenty-Four of Thirty-One: Not My Fans

I've never had a house with a ceiling fan. In this house, every single room has a ceiling fan. Each one is different and a little unique from the others. Today was warm. It actually felt a little hot! We had all the windows open and several of the fans going. The breeze throughout the house made me feel like I was outside. As I would walk from room to room I was constantly hit with moving air. It felt pretty good. Fresh. There is nothing better than opening up all the windows in the house on one of the first warm days of spring. Each breath feels a little cleansing like you are exhaling winter.

Not My Fans 
Well, three of the six anyway.

I wasn't allowed to turn this one (below) off. It's actually really warm in our bedroom! I promise that is not me complaining about the heat already. ;)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Day Twenty-Three of Thirty-One: Not My Fowl

Some of you may remember, from previous years, how much I have sliced about birds. I love birds. I have written many poems about them and I find them fascinating. I don't necessarily like "pet store" birds, they kind of freak me out, but birds in the wild. I love them!

When I was a little girl I would chase birds around my yard desperate to catch one. I wanted one so badly. When I see my first robin each year in the spring, it makes me so happy. I've been in near car crashes because of unusually early robins.

Perhaps one of my most favorite birds EVER is the Great Blue Heron. Once when we were kayaking down the river a few years back we saw one as it flew over the water. It was an amazing sight. I would occasionally see one on my drive to work. I don't think I ever got a picture of it. My kids got really good at getting my attention when a bird was near.

Tonight Elliot was taking the dog out and ran back in the house.

"Mom, get your phone. You aren't going to believe this."

There, right on the edge of the water was a heron eating a fish. I've never seen one eat right before my eyes like that. I scrambled to get my phone and video it's little dance on the side of the water. It was quite something. We watched for quite a while. Eventually, it moved on but it was a nice way to wrap up the day. It's not my fowl but it got my attention and I hope it comes back to visit again soon.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Day Twenty-Two of Thirty-One: Not My Couch

You know what's strange? Sitting in a house that is empty and doesn't belong to you while two people you don't know bring in a whole bunch of furniture that doesn't belong to you.

"Where would you like this?"
"Um...I What do you think?"

I remember sitting in the living room, Janie on one side, Elliot on the other. We just sat there and watched. They put together tables, furniture legs, and unwrapped throw pillows. They even had artwork to put on the walls. I declined. I wasn't really sure if we were allowed to put holes in the walls. 

I felt so lucky and yet so oddly out of place. Here we were in this nice home with furniture to lay our heads on and space to move. We were out of the hotel room and we were excited but at the same time unsettled. 

I think of all the furniture that we lounged on, I miss our couches the most. They were so comfy and I loved wrapping myself up in a blanket and snuggling into the corner. The sofa we are renting right now is a bit hard and not so comfy. It's not my couch but I do enjoy looking out the window while sitting on it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Day Twenty-One of Thirty-One: Not My Sounds

I've noticed something about the noises here. They are different. I suppose it's normal. Different places, different sounds. As I walk outside here I notice chirps and quacks. Ripply sounds and splashes. What I miss is what I heard over the weekend. We stopped at the old house for a short visit the other day. The kids were delighted to see the neighborhood kids and quickly ran over to play. Shawn and I were picking up the yard a bit and moving a few things around in the "out garage." Every so often we would stop and listen to the squeals and laughter. The screams of delight. It was a pleasant sound. One I'm looking forward to hearing again on a daily basis. Right now we live in a quiet neighborhood. We don't see many kids out playing. Maybe as the weather warms the children will come out to play. Until then I am reminded that these are not my sounds but they will be again.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Day Twenty of Thirty-One: Not My Tree

The trees here are pretty. They are scattered a bit. Not thick like a forest. Not like OUR backyard. These trees are nice though. One big downfall? They are not climbing trees. They are not my trees or my kids' trees. Just tall, look at me sway trees. Pretty but scary in a storm trees. They are, cross my fingers don't fall on the house because there is no other house, trees.

Two days before the fire, my son wrote a poem about his pine tree. He said I could post it here.

Pine Tree

Born in 1937...I think.
It is there I am there,
I climb sits there.
Pine tree

Pine tree, my safe haven, my
pine tree. cold hard sap
globs. Still climbing, pine tree.

100 years, it waits until
I come. My safe haven.
My...pine tree.

~Elliot Hubbard
November 2, 2017

Every time I read his poem, it gets to me. We all love that tree. It's been there for as long or longer than the house. I wonder where he got the year? A guess I suppose. He would always climb that tree. He would climb so high, higher than he should. He could see everything from up there. He'd sit and sometimes startle me when I'd come looking for him. It was always one of those things I questioned.  Should I let him climb it? Is it too high? It was one of those "parenting" calls that I decided to let him figure out. You decide what your limit is, but be careful for goodness sake (he wasn't going to the top mind you)!
I'm not sure what the fate of our good ol' pine tree will be. We've left it in the builder's hands and asked him and his crew to say a few words should they need to cut it down. It did go up with the house a bit. I remember seeing the flames as they climbed up the side and being sadder because of it. There's a chance it could bounce back. I guess time and necessity will tell. Whatever the outcome, I'll remember the times I had to wash sap out of Elliot's hair and clothes and yell for him to come in for dinner from the branches.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Day Nineteen of Thirty-One: Not My Comb

When your house fills with flame, smoke, and heat beyond measure strange things happen. Things melt that you wouldn't expect. Other items become unrecognizable. Some items, however, even when they are no longer there, leave their mark.

Our bathroom, the day of the fire, had several items on the counter. It was messy. A hairspray bottle, the hair dryer, my comb, a few other odds and ends had not been put away. It was a Friday and I just left them sitting there that morning. Turns out, they sat there even after I went to bed that night.

The next morning, as Shawn and I walked through the house I had a compulsive moment. I grabbed a garbage bag from my neighbor's house and cleared off the counter in the bathroom. I think I was still in disbelief and at the same time thinking, I don't want all these people to see my messy counter.

Afterward, I just stared at the outlines. Each item telling me where it once was. Each item reminding me this was real. I was most amazed at the outline of the comb. It almost looked like it was still there. Like nothing happened. However, trying to grab it I was hit with the harsh reality that the comb was a ghost and not my comb.

We went to the house today. It is full of ghosts of what once was. So quiet. So cold. So sad. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Day Eighteen of Thirty-One: Not My Rocks

When I was little, we had a driveway of rock. Almost every morning, for several years, I would pick up a new rock for my collection. I had a box (I believe it was the box from an "Annie" mug) in the top drawer of my night stand. Each rock was kept in this box which soon became more and more full with time.

Most weekends I would get a piece or two of the newspaper lay them on the counter. I would gather two bowls, a towel, and my clear nail polish. I would wash, rinse, dry, and paint the rocks with the polish. Sometimes I would have my little book of rock information next to me so I could try and figure out what the rocks were made of. It was fascinating to me and I loved my collection.

As I got older, I outgrew the routine of cleaning and painting the rocks. I stopped picking them up from the driveway and I think most of them made it back there eventually. The interest in rocks never completely died. I still look and wonder. Often when we go on a vacation or trip we will come home with a rock or two and my children have also been known to collect a rock here and there.

The house we are renting has a paved driveway. However, some of the landscaping is rock. Rock very similar to my driveway as a child. All different muted colors that when wet reveal lines of green and speckles of blue or pink. Tonight I examined some of the rocks a little more carefully and decided I should pick one. One to keep. I don't think our landlord will mind. I washed it, rinsed it, and dried it off. I don't have any nail polish yet, but this one might get a coating eventually. It can be my healing house rock. A little reminder.

These are not my rocks...

but this one can be.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Day Seventeen of Thirty-One: Not My Attitude

Every year, on this day, I walk myself through the day my grandmother died. I remember the sounds, the people, the tears, the disbelief. I remember the faces, the caregivers, the chapel, the gift shop.

When my grandmother died we had a funeral. Sitting in the room, I listened to the pastor as he described my grandmother. His exact words, "she was made of piss and vinegar." I remember thinking, as a young child, can he say that? Knowing all too well, he was exactly right and how else could you describe a woman like her? She was a tough as nails sharp talker who knew how to love. We called her Maw Maw.

Anytime anyone in the family gets riled or revved up we say they are having a "Maw Maw moment," or "that's the Maw Maw in you." We all seem to have a bit of that running through our veins.

As I walked through today I began to realize that I've got that piss and vinegar too. I'm pretty grateful for it. We expect there will be tough days but no one said we need to dwell in them. That's just not my attitude and I refuse to swim in sorrow for too long. I guess I'm just awfully thankful that I was and continue to be surrounded by those who look for the good. Those who search for the light. Those who even when faced with challenges act aggressively and with excitement. I felt a force field of love today from my parents, my principal, my friends, students, and even those who were struggling to maintain a smile because they accepted mine.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Day Sixteen of Thirty-One: Not My Story

I have grown a better understanding of perspective over the past several months following the fire. As a family we went through a shocking, terrifying, and traumatic event. One that you tell your children not to worry about. One that you attempt to prevent at all costs. One that you think about and then shake off because the odds of it happening are so unlikely.

Then something like this happens. When it does you think you all have the same version, the same story. However, as I began to process the story for myself, with my husband, and with my children I realized, their stories were not my story. We all experienced each moment differently.

Each image different.

Each memory different.

I always knew, even when I had gone through something similar to an experience of someone else, I didn't truly understand what the person was going through. However, I think, secretly we still sometimes think we get it. We don't. We never can. As much as I want to grieve and take it all on for my children and husband, I can't. It would be too much and it would also stunt their process.

It's difficult to go through something on our own but I think it is truly more difficult to watch your family struggle. Something else I know for sure...when this is over, we will all be better. We will all be stronger. We will all be closer. We will be grateful we struggled through it together because really watching others rise helps us all rise.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Day Fifteen of Thirty-One: Not My Neighbor

Every day 
watching for you
I worry 
of meeting 
in my lane. 
Whispery stares,
tree bark coats 
blend you to a background. 
Around each corner 
my eyes dance 
side to side. 
Are you there? 
Are you hiding? 
Just a passerby
I sigh
As you
with grilling eyes
say, "Who are you?
Not my neighbor."
And with a snap of your head
run your story of footprints
back to the woods. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Day Fourteen of Thirty-One: Not My Stream

The house we are living in right now, as I mentioned in an earlier slice, is on a channel. There are resulting creeks and streams all through the neighborhood. I'm not sure if they are man-made or natural works of art but I sure do like driving passed them.

The kids like to ride their bikes down to one in particular and watch for little bits of life. A duck. The occasional otter. Minnows and little fish, as well as plant life, reside in the cracks of the rocks. I'm waiting to see what it looks like in the spring. I can only imagine it will be a sight teaming with life. 

Looking forward to watching it rise and fall with spring rains. Wondering how many soaked sets of shoes we'll have at the end of each day once it swells beyond its grassy barrier. We shall see. It's not my stream but for now, I'll enjoy it. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Day Thirteen of Thirty-One: Not My Ashes

The flame
I smother it

The loss
I miss it

The grief
I grant it

The dread
I release it

The sadness
I lift it

If only?
I toss it

Take action?
I assume it

New normal
I expect it

The happiness
I gather it

The memory
I absorb it

The love
I capture it

My life
Not my ashes

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Day Twelve of Thirty-One: Not My Style

Janie and I were watching a bunch of conferring videos I made a few years ago at a summer writing camp. I had been making them for upcoming presentations and to have some examples for teachers. As we perused my youtube channel she looked at me and said, "Man, you used to have some rockin' outfits."

I had to laugh a little. She tends to be a fashion-ista probably way ahead of her time. I tend to be patterned and skirted, with a touch of free love whimsy. Not all of my clothes were lost in the fire. Just everything in my closet or on the main floor which was mostly cold weather clothing along with some things I hadn't put away yet.

Most of my summer outfits and dresses were already stowed away in the basement. When it does finally decide to warm up, this will be a nice change from what I have been wearing. Currently, I have five solid colored t shirts, a few long pull over sweaters, black and gray pants, jeans, and two pairs of leggings. I also have a couple of long sleeved shirts/sweaters and a pair or two of cords. Compared to what I did have it's pretty bland.

I just need to get some sandals so when that weather hits I'm ready! I have one pair of gray slip on tennis shoes and two pairs of boots. It's crazy. I used to have around five pairs of boots, probably at least eight pairs of sandals (some of which I absolutely loved), a couple pairs of tennis shoes, and several slip on flats or short heels. It didn't feel like that much compared to some people I know, but now I realize, it was a lot!

So, I think a shopping trip is in order so I can be prepared for that warmer weather that is hopefully around the corner. I can hardly wait to break out my long white skirt with big black floral designs because right now this is just not my style.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Day Eleven of Thirty-One: Not My Door

Every year we have a tradition. On the first day of school, the kids get their picture taken on the front step. I was looking back at some of the pictures I had posted on Facebook of the first day of school. Made me a little sad. We probably won't be in this house when school starts, at least I hope not. We will probably be in our new house.

When I look at those pictures it's hard to imagine that there will be a different door behind them this September. Will it feel like my door, or will I think, this is not my door. 

One of my favorites.