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Showing posts from 2011

When Men Throw Baby Showers

My days are punctuated by finding our spinning attic vent in our courtyard after a day of wind, teaching my students how to third an egg for a recipe, watching 4-year old cheerleaders march in the Whittier Christmas parade, snapping a shot of the agaves blooming at Laguna beach, creating a paper wreath from Phil’s old landscaping plans, finding yet another roadblock for the placement of the light on the bathroom wall, getting my next baby-bump picture taken by Mom, and reading about Communism in Wild Swans by Jung Chang.

Sometimes the extra-ordinary happens: like having a group of men throw me a baby shower at my last trustees meeting. If only all baby showers could be like this one: two gifts, lemon cake, tea, and lots of discussion about church politics and the stage configuration. No games. No ogling at me or feeling my belly. Kurt Plubell discussed his bouts of morning sickness when he was pregnant, and Bob Deklotz was interested to know if he gained any weight. As was only fitt…

Climbing and Kicking

I felt it last night. It was like when your eye twitches involuntarily or when you see your pulse beating in the flesh of your hand. A kick. Maybe a punch. Phil felt it too. How are you able to do that? You’re just a little one. Most of my co-workers and friends can’t even see the evidence of you. I see them giving me the belly glance, and I’m so glad that I’m hidden beneath a loose shirt.          My male co-workers are already making their vows, “I just wanted to let you know that I will never touch your belly. I’m just not into that.” Female co-workers are bending over and saying in high-pitched voices, “Oh, oh, is that a little bump I see there? It’s about time.” And my students like to distract me from my Algebra lessons by ask questions like, “But Mrs. Stevens, what if your baby likes chocolate? You’re depriving him of nourishment.” One of my students has named it Bob, and as she leaves class everyday she says, “Goodbye Mrs. Stevens. Goodbye Bob.” In as much as I win…

Autumn's Songs

Fall doesn’t seem so bad when I think that this is the last time I’ve got to go over classroom rules with my students; this is the last of the teacher’s meetings; this is the last time I have to put up scalloped borders and give integer quizzes at lunch. I only have to make it to March and then it’ll be over. As much as this thought presses me to the finish line, I wonder if I’ll miss the long chats with Natalie Fikejs or the regimented bell schedule or the laughter in the teacher’s lounge or seeing Gretchen Stevens everyday. Will I transition into that odd state of parenthood where the adults actually look forward to the primary-colored “Back to School” signs? How backwards! As of now the only autumn comfort is Grandma Taylor’s. She loves fall as much as I hate it, and I think her love dulls my hate. It’s hard to hate any season in Grandma Taylor’s house because each one comes with the change of the colors: the pillows, the dishes, the flowers, the candles, the tableclot…

Before & After The Beans Spilled

Before the first call to the doctor's office, I didn't realize that they counted these things in weeks. Give me a break; nothing happens in a week! Tell me the months. But now that I'm taking deep breaths before each bite and tossing and turning every other night, I'm counting the weeks too. How much further until trimester one is over? Two more weeks to go before the fog MIGHT lift. Two more. Two more.

August has been a long month.

August 6: The worst part about being pregnant is suspecting everyone else suspecting that I'm pregnant.

August 8: There's no chance I am going to act like an adult in this situation, and there's no swallowing of pride in this decision. I want my MOMMY! I will NOT go to my first pre-natal exam alone. The nurse on the phone told me that I was seven and a half weeks along and the further along the better. At the first appointment I will be 9 weeks, which is perfect. The 2 hour visit will include an ultrasound and info about clas…

Contemplating Manual Labor

The body can’t know rest, unless it has first known work. Real work. Work that stings your eyes with sunscreen and salty sweat, that sends rivulets of muddy water down your shower drain, that transforms bottled water into sweet life-giving nectar, and knocks you out less than five minutes after your head hits the pillow.

This is the drumbeat of my summers. Early Saturday mornings with my CRV back seats laid flat to make room for shovels, digging bar, and grade rake. Hot tea in one hand with my other on the wheel; Phil shifts for me. At Granada someone brings donuts, usually Tim White or Bob Miller, and I always try to eat one, never learning from all my past donut-eats that when I’m half-way through, I ask myself why did I take one of these horrible rings of sugary dough.

I lace up my old hiking boots, the ones that hiked 2/3 of the John Muir trail ten years ago. The toes are scuffed to a lighter shade of brown, and if I lace them too tight, I give myself a welt on the ankle. They are…

The Jungle Law

In the book The Giver the character Jonas must receive the world’s worst memories and thus protect all laymen from pain. As he takes on memories of war and starvation and loneliness, he sees his childhood fading and adulthood taking its place. He loses the spring in his step and the listlessness in his play.

I have had to be a disciplinarian today…this whole week actually, and I think I know why the world has so many bad parents. It’s easier to let things slide. It’s easier not to call home after I’ve threatened. It’s easier not to write a referral after the warning. It’s easier to talk than act.
My students are growing tired of the same old school routines. They know the rules, so now it’s time to break them and brag to friends about what you got away with in Bible class. A couple in love sneaks off for some privacy. Kids text in class. They see how many teachers won’t notice gum in their mouths. They squiggle and squirm and the greatest weapon we teachers have against them is the…

Go to the Trees

Being married to a man who speaks latin when he's talking about trees has inspired me to make up my own names for trees: names for the ordinary folk, and names that I think are better than many species' common names. In fact when I use my made up tree names, Phil and my grandmother know exactly what I'm talking about. So... I give you The Trees, by Abigail Joy Stevens




















Here we have the Butterfly Tree, easily recognized by the shape of its leaves. I can just imagine all its foliage taking flight. It's common name is the Hong Kong Orchid Tree (Bauhinia variegata). And yes it does get little orchid flowers on it. It also get long spiraling seed pods that make a delicious crunch in the fall.

















A perfect seed pod makes four crunches when stepped on... or so Philip says.


















I call this one the Tulip Tree. The blooms all look like Tulips. (Common name: Saucer Magnolia. BORING Latin: Magnolia soulangiana) You'd never notice it if it wasn't in bloom. They bloom right after th…