Hello Summertime!

What is up, friends? I haven’t posted in months because I have been doing so many things—having Covid, teaching at the college, planting my garden, doing my directed readings for my masters portfolio, burying my last living grandmother. When I recovered from Covid I again felt grateful for my good health. I relished the feel of digging in the soil with my bare hands as I planted peas, onions, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, and some flowers to attract the bees. I filled my mind until I thought it would explode as I studied this semester. I reflected on my mortality at my grandma’s passing, and I felt so much gratitude for reaching the age I have and getting to have her for so long. In short, it’s been a busy spring. 

Now I am getting ready to go help my brother move in Texas, go to girls camp with a bunch of 12-18 year old young ladies, and shuttle my kids to camps, pools, libraries, lakes, and anywhere the wind takes us this summer. 

I just interviewed a couple of caregivers, and I can’t wait to make time to honor their work. They have really contributed a lot to the local caregiver community in the Washington County area, and I’m excited to tell a little about them soon. 

One of the exciting things I’m working on is a podcast regarding attainable housing in our county. Housing costs have truly become a huge issue with the skyrocketing prices of homes. Just this week I have seen two of my favorite businesses, River Rock Roasting Company, and JoAnn, post notices on their doors that they will be closed some evenings. I’m sure there are complicated reasons, but we are seeing a lot of people in the service industry have to leave our area because they can’t afford to live and work here with rent the way it is. I attended a Housing Action sub-committee meeting today and heard that even the hospital is struggling to keep employees because the cost of housing in Washington County is pushing people away from our labor market. 

I guess what I’m saying with this post is, Hello Summer! I can’t wait to enjoy everything you have to offer. I hope I can offer something back. 

Picture from girls camp last summer. We are so lucky to live where we do.

Late Summer Reminder

I’m having my annual late summer blues. Every year at this time they creep around my house and make me feel like a little dried out raisin falling off the vine. I’m here to write myself some notes to remind myself that I’m not a raisin. I’m a grape. 

  1. I do not have to have an overarching purpose and passion in life. I mother my children. I work part time in real estate and teaching. I go to graduate school. I am learning to paint watercolor. I have a very good garden. I serve in my church. Those are all purposes to which I devote my time. None of them is the boss of me, and there is plenty there for me to find satisfaction with my life. 
  2. I do not have to rule the world in any of the areas where I devote my time. I don’t have to be in charge of anything for PTO. It is okay for me to just sign up and help when I can, and not run anything. I don’t have to be the top of my class in school. I don’t have to make all the money in my jobs. I don’t have to be a perfect leader for young women. I don’t have to be a perfect mom. I make mistakes and will continue to do so.
  3. School will start in a few weeks, and that structure will help me escape this late summer listlessness.
  4. If I can’t muster the desire to make and process blackberry jam before blackberry season is over, it is not the end of the world.
  5. If I don’t post on my blog anymore even though I was so regular about it when I was younger and had fewer children and responsibilities, it’s okay. This blog is for me. My voice is not dead, even if she has been quiet for awhile. She can be quiet as long as she wants. I’ve been busy living. It’s okay to just do that.
Selling t-shirts, but not in charge.

Merry Christmas 2020

Dear Friends, Family, and fictional characters we wish were real,

Merry Christmas! The Chamberlains have been blessed to stay employed this year. Alex and Jenny both turned 40. Jenny wanted to have a dance party and was sorely disappointed. Alex kindly had friends write on our sidewalk, which eased the pain, but Jenny is still on record describing 2020 as “the world’s biggest un-party.” Alex got the car of his dreams close to his birthday after many, many discussions with Jenny which shall not be revisited here. Jenny also started graduate school at DSU in the fall for a degree with a super complicated name, and she is loving it. 

Jenny’s current jam remains I Will Survive (Polydor Records, 1978), by Gloria Gaynor, while Alex has been rocking out fairly consistently to Get Lucky (Columbia Records, 2013) by Daft Punk, featuring Pharrell Williams.

The children spent the spring part of school on our couch. The couch used to be yellow and modern, and now it’s more of a light brown with misshapen theme. In the words of Indiana Jones, “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.” 

Grace repainted her room white so that she can better decorate for each season. She’s currently jamming Commissioning a Symphony in C (BMI, 2001) by Cake.

Henry got a hat and excelled at online school. He discovered We’re not Gonna Take it (Atlantic Records, 1984) by Twisted Sister and repeats it often. His deepest wish is for reptiles to rule the earth once more. 

Scott has developed an abiding love for Ava Max (Atlantic Records, 2020). He continues to look identical to Bastian from The Neverending Story, and thought that Frozen II was a worthy follow-up, and not a blatant cash-grab. He has been reading Amulet, which is usually pronounced “A Mullet” in our house.

Kaleb’s favorite song of the year is Speed Me Up (Atlantic Records, 2020) by Wiz Khalifa, featuring Ty Dollar $ign, Lil Yachty & Sueco the Child, and he wishes everyone to listen to it whenever it is his day to pick the music at our house. He is convinced that it’s called “Spickle me.”

We all enjoyed a lot of ultimate frisbee, pickleball, and a fall trip to Joshua Tree as highlights of the year. 

Sending all our love and wishes for a *MUCH* better 2021, 

The Chamberlains

Check out the playlist HERE.

A Reluctant Tesla Adoption

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This is how I looked on my last day with my Toyota Corolla. I bought it last fall when I decided to go to school in a neighboring town. I usually drive a large family vehicle, so I wanted something with better gas mileage.  In the process of buying that car, it came to my attention that I am married to a man obsessed. I already knew of his great love of all things Jurassic Park. I know and love his homemade R2D2 robot.  His weird affinity for spreadsheets—I knew about that, too. But until I had to argue my way into buying this Toyota, I had no idea that my usually completely reasonable husband had in one small way, gone mad.

What was the source of this madness, you ask? Well, it is only distantly related to dinosaurs.  My husband, like me, loves green energy. We’d both love to be independent of fossil fuels if possible. We have solar on our roof, which he installed himself to make it affordable after extensive research.  In this way, our values align. And yet, I would be happy to wait a few more years until electric cars are not so much “early adopter” vehicles.  Alex, on the other hand, has been, let us say, firm in his belief that our next car had to be an electric car.

I will not go into the gritty details of the extensive conversations we had about the economics of cars over the past year. I will jump to the happy ending.  After Alex finally decided to just reserve a  Cybertruck and wait until they get around to producing the least expensive ones, a Tesla Model 3 finally came down to Alex’s budget point. Last week, a short time before his 40th birthday, he bought a Tesla.  And in the car shuffling process that ensued, I sold my Toyota.

I would drive the Tesla for a few days, because I was just not too sure about it. I wanted Alex to have it all to himself and relish it as much as possible.  Finally he did push me a little to drive it, and I did. Here is what I think.

Teslas are the future.  It flips the normal way I drive on its head, because the second you take your foot off the accelerator, the car slows way down. So instead of hovering that foot over the brake, you have to get used to using acceleration to slow down less dramatically.  The previous owner said it would take just a couple of hours of driving to get used to, and I am sure he was right.

The other big adjustment for me is the keyless thing. The car does have a  card you can use as a key, but otherwise it senses from an app on  your phone when and if you are there , and unlocks and turns on based on proximity. I am still adjusting to the push-button putting it in park.

The blue tooth picked my audio book right up for me, and the sound system is nice and crisp. The car comes with a feature called “Caraoke” which I enjoyed immensely yesterday while we belted out Bohemian Rhapsody and Sweet Caroline. Of all the little techie doodads, that may be my favorite.

One thing I didn’t anticipate was that now that we own a car that was expensive to us, I worry about it more. What if someone damages it? What if it gets in an accident? What if I drive it wrong?  The other night we were looking at a van, and another car pulled over in front of our parked Model 3. The driver and another guy got out and walked around the car, shining their flashlights in the back window.  I was really on edge, worrying that they would do something to the car.  But they eventually just left and got in their own car without touching the car.

When we got back in, Alex showed me something called “Sentinel Mode” which records video whenever anything comes within a certain proximity to the car.  We could see the license plate of the guys’ car, and everything they did. For some reason that helped me worry less.

Overall, I have to say it feels good to know that one of our cars is now powered partially by the sunshine that falls on our roof every day.  I miss my Toyota, and I will probably buy another one before I’m ready to get my own Tesla, but I’m definitely more open to one in my future now that I am making friends with one and still in love with its happy owner.

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Coping Strategies

So this whole virus thing seems pretty serious. I am realizing that as an introvert I am very well equipped to deal with lots of staying home and isolation. Still, I’m slowing from the former frenetic pace of life, and it’s an adjustment. I thought I’d share a few of my coping strategies that are working so far.

Read All the Memes

First of all, thank you Internet. You have not disappointed in the meme department during this crisis. Every day there is something new making me chuckle.
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My husband’s favorite: “Whoever said one person can’t change the world never ate an undercooked bat.”

Quilt all the Quilts

My sewing room is full of UFO’s, which are also known as UnFinished Objects. I have already finished two, and look forward to finishing more. Check out Jenny Sews for the details in coming days.

Walk

I often go on 20 minute walks during normal times, but right now I can go for longer walks, and they help lift my mental mood significantly.

Watch All the Jane Austen and Period Dramas 

So far I have watched

Pride and Prejudice 1995 BBC version

Sense and Sensibility 2008 BBC version

Emma – Gwyneth Paltrow Version 1996

Mansfield Park 1999 Romance Drama

Wives & Daughters (Elizabeth Gaskell Miniseries)

North & South (Elizabeth Gaskell Miniseries)

And I plan to watch more as opportunities arise. I have wanted to sit down and watch these movies forever, and I never make time for that. Thank you quarantine!

Whatever Else Suits My Fancy

I’ve sewn a mask out of cute fabric for me to wear while grocery shopping. A man in line at Walmart today told me I should sell them.

I made a loaf of sourdough bread that took about four days to finish due to bad planning and timing on my part, but it tasted delicious.

We recently had our kitchen wood floor sanded down and re-finished, which made me want to deep clean our fridge. I did that, and it’s very satisfying.

I’m listening to and reading a couple of different books, and trying recipes out of one of them.

I think I’m reaching a point now where I’m settling into a more restful pace of movie watching, walking, and general survival with the homeschool responsibilities. My emotions range from calm to hopeful to despairing to optimistic, and a whole mixed bag of many more.  I think the one thing that helps me the most is to just remember that this is something affecting the entire world at the same time. How crazy for us to share a global experience like this! I hope it helps us all be a little more compassionate and understanding of one another.