December consists of hurry up and wait.
At school we hurry through the last unit, hoping to complete it before
a)an unexpected snow day hits
b)the current bout of flu doesn’t empty out the classes
c)too many of my students leave for early vacation.
At home it’s a flurry of hurry as I shop, package, insert, check lists, pull down boxes, search and find–that is, when I am not grading those last minute assignments.
The wait part is counting down days to Christmas Break. We voted to make 12/21 the exit day in order to have an extra week at the end of break, instead of at the beginning. Fumes of distinctive burn out permeated the hallways on Friday. Everyone was tired. I know waiting so long for the break to begin will mean I enjoy that much more–right?
I did a happy dance in the kitchen on Saturday 12/22. Walked around in the brisk, sunny, pre-snowstorm. Definitely appreciated the Christmas weekend. Love being on break.
It’s Wednesday. Umm, how long before we go back to school?
It’s true: You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher.
So far I’ve read two books, answered a dozen Quora requests, watched three movies, straightened up my Hamlet unit, polished my Merchant of Venice lesson plan, finished a puzzle, made a batch of cookies, tried out my new walking poles (thanks, Hon), slept in (6 am!). Now what?
Sheesh–I better figure out something about down time. I’ve got about four years to retirement.
They say knitting can be fun.
Summer vacation is one of the perks of teaching. That punchline answer of what’s the favorite part about teaching–June, July, and August–has some truth to it.
I didn’t go into teaching because of summer vacation.* Summer vacation is a lovely benefit after months and months of —oops, I digress. Today’s post involves the art of the StayCay Away. Yes, it’s a sub-category of that recent trend of staying at home while vacationing.
I am not a traveler, although I have done the Lucy Room with a View Europe trip (husband hunting did not occur, although my paradigm did shift about what it means to be American), and I’ve done the exotic locale trip–both the Bahamas and Hawaii (love the ocean, hate the looonnng plane trip). I’ve done short border jaunts to another country: Canada and Mexico. I’ve even done the opposite coast conference trip–twice. Not a lot of traveling, but enough to be able to state that I like staying at home when I vacation.
What is there not to like? I have all my comforts: bed, refrigerator, backyard hammock, and closet (I tend to bring the wrong clothes when traveling). Okay, yeah, it does get a bit tedious the day after day routine of same walls, nagging urge to weed and dust (I thought I was on vacation), so this is when the StayCay Away activates. I pack up and head to Mom’s.
This is not going home. This is going to her condo that she uses only a couple of weeks out the year because she lives year round in the desert (the things we do for marriage), but can’t quite give up the place. I have a key.
A day’s drive, and I have a homish away from home. It’s in my old neighborhood, all the amenities of fridge, recliner, the library is next door, and a pool (something I definitely don’t have at home, and swimming in the lake is not an option). I still pack the wrong clothes, but that gives me an excuse to go shopping.
The hubs stays home. Two days of nothing to do but read books creates restlessness. And that’s what I do at my Away VayCay: I read. And read. The library has a Friends of the Library corner where books range from 35 cents to 50 cents for really great reads. I bring in five dollars and a book bag and load up on classics, contemporary bestsellers, and let’s-take-a-chance titles, plus a few for the classroom library.
In between reading I visit friends and family**, watch a couple of movies, take long walks, and think about not eating since I hope to lose five pounds by not having much food in the refrigerator. Reading is a form of hunger suppressant. Movies require snacks.
The StayCay Away helps me appreciate Home when I return because I really am I homebody at heart–Dorothy knew what she was talking about.
So a vacation where it’s a lot like home works well for me.
Anyone else have a StayCay Away to share?
*That’s for any parents or students reading this post.
**Just in case friends and family read this post–you really are my first priority.
After Tuesday June 12th my door to summer vacation fully opened. “I have no definite plans,” is my reply when asked, “What are you doing over the summer?”
I don’t know what the reaction would be if I gave an honest answer. You see as a Book Booster, I love reading ❤️ with big hearts of appreciation for the absolute joy books bring.
Reading through my subscribed blogs, I hang out with a plethora of other WordPress bloggers who love reading also, such as littlemisswoodsreads. Scrolling through her reasons for reading, I added my own for why I love to read. It has to do with reconnecting.
Even though the majority of my day is interacting with my students, I do spend a considerable amount of time with the computer. Grading, emails, lesson plans, PPT lecture enhancements are all part of the day. By the time I get home I am wanting a break from screens and keyboards.
After a brief walk around the block to get my physical reboot, I head for my library book bag, grab a selection, and find a comfy chair. Reading helps my mind unwind.
After an hour or so I begin to feel back in alignment: my body is tuned from its walk, and my mind has gone through its paces with a chapter or three.
Reading, paper in hand, both stimulates and relaxes my brain after a day of working with the computer screen. Kindle doesn’t cut it since glass doesn’t stimulate connectivity to the brain. Good old paper in hand. A prescription for defragmentation of tech stress.
To celebrate my kick off to summer reading, I am rebooting my Book Boosters feature. Click on the link and connect with other readers, find that simpatico, discover new blogs, collect my TBRs. Add your name in comments if you want to join the list of fellow love-books-readers.
Oh I do love my summertime of leisurely reading.
How about you–what books do you find yourself reading during the summer? Do you have special places, special times set aside for reading?
So far summer break has been great: a long-waited Hawaiian holiday, lots of hammock reading, editing projects, family visits–yes, an enjoyable break, that is until today.
Today the break became literally great. Well, maybe not great but enough to earn an ER visit.
Highlights of the incident:
So, tommorrow it’s off to the orthopedic surgeon for assessment.
Over sixty years of surviving various risky activities and I fall off my bike and break my wrist. Sheesh–
My Goodreads barometer blithely informed me of being 8 books behind schedule. The feeling was akin to having the ATM receipt indicating my miscalculation of my debit card ledger, which activated my overdraft. In other words–I was embarrassed. Embarrassed because I am always, always ahead of schedule by a couple of books and feel rather proud of that, thank you very much. Just as I cautiously enter and reconcile my debit transactions in my little brown bank book. I blew it both ways: book and bank account. But no real damage was done. I deposited a goodly amount back into my Goodreads account and my bank account. Whew–budgeting reading and bank accounts, both must be tended to judiciously.
While in Hawaii, I knew I would be sight seeing more than reading. Yet, I couldn’t wait to focus on reading what I wanted, when I wanted with school being out. Books are heavy to pack and wanting to pack light, I only took along three: one for the plane, one for the beach, and one for the flight home. I ran out of books on the third day. One reason is because my husband started in on my beach read, and what I can read in two days, he will read in a week. I’m a gulper and he’s a savorer. However, it’s amazing to me how much reading I can actually fit into the day when I don’t have to grade essays or create lesson plans.
No thank you. I don’t do e-books. But thanks for the suggestion.
Not having enough books to read created a wee bit of consternation. Fortunately, being resourceful, I located the hotel’s freebie library in the lobby. Unfortunately, the collection consisted primarily of romances and mysteries. I succumbed to reading one of the romances. The story wasn’t too awful. Okay, it was way awful. I skimmed much of the plot. I felt desperation set in and I didn’t want to bug the hubs too much ( “aren’t you done with that book yet?”). I think I began having withdrawals because I started devouring all the tourist magazines my husband had been bringing back to the room from the various stores and restaurants we visited. He consulted these as a general would plan an assault, carefully laying out our daily excursion menu. I didn’t mind seeing the sights as long as we included beaches. I got a temporary fix for my reading on our second day. While he explored the Princeville Shopping Center I explored its library. I scored a mystery about a library director who solves a murder(I kid you not) and he found a grocery store. We both made out well.
Overall, June’s Reader Round Up is a bit eclectic. Here are the top three picks. The rest of my choices are found, as always, at my Goodreads site.
Bauer’s informative, approachable method of reading various subjects–history to novels to plays to poetry–makes sense. She presents a method to take reading, the means of furthering one’s education to a deeper level. It’s rated four stars merely due to being somewhat incomplete in its works list. The updated revised edition should remedy this.
A reread–and I appreciated the story even more this time, having read most, if not all, of the books Mattie had devoured in her quest to further educate herself. As Mattie discovers for herself that life is not what books present. She learns that life is complicated, messy, unfair, and happy endings aren’t a given. Mattie also learns that sometimes truth and opportunities can become both a burden and freedom.
Found in the YA section, it’s one that is so riveting and so well-written, it should be read by anyone who seeks a well-researched historical novel that is a story within a story. A definite five star.
I have read and appreciated Robert Whitlow’s books in the past and when I spied this on the giveaway shelf at the hometown library I grabbed it for the trip. This is the book I had looked forward to reading while sunning, the one I loaned out to my husband. The one I didn’t get to read until we got on the plane going home. At least I converted my only-reads-nonfiction hubby to expand his horizons.
Many people compare Whitlow’s writing to Grisham’s, in that he mainly writes legal thrillers, yet his plots have more faith-based aspects than Grisham’s, and Whitlow sometimes selects difficult, uncomfortable topics. For instance, I almost didn’t read The Sacrifice since it is about someone planning a school shooting, which is misleading. It centers more on a young attorney who is in the process how he handles relationships with family, friends, and faith, while he defends a troubled youth. Whitlow weaves in a couple of subplots that kept me guessing in terms of the identity of the school bomber. Fast-paced, excellent characterization, The Sacrifice is a legal mystery that provides a strong faith message without being preachy. I will be on the lookout for more Whitlows at the library. Five stars.
The perfect summer vacation read. It kept me intrigued during the six hour flight to Kauai and helped me get through the early morning jet lag adjustment as I read it under the covers while the hubs snoozed. Heitzmann effortlessly weaves a tale of interpersonal drama that is laced with deep secrets that are need of airing so healing can begin. Faith, grace, and salvation are woven into the plot in a way that the message is a natural part of the story and not a tacked on sermon. Only a couple of plot holes or questions about Rese obtaining the villa and how the inn seems to function sufficiently with only a couple of intermittent guests, Yet it’s not enough to detract from such a well-developed story, one with plausible authenticity. The hallmark is that each featured character is developed fully. I look forward to the rest of the series. And I confess this is a reread, but isn’t summer the best time for reacquainting old friends while finding new ones? Four stars.
A review book from BookLook Bloggers. An upbeat contemporary YA retelling of the Cinderella theme: good girl, harsh stepmother, stepsister rivalry, unfair favoritism, a prince of a fellow, a happy ending. Christina June saves the plot from being sappy with some snappy twists such as a spunky, creative protagonist by the name of Tatum who makes her dreams come true instead of waiting for a fairy godmother to change the situation. The fairy godmother in this case is a lively abuelita who plays bunco and watches reruns of The Golden Girls. As for the stepmother, she’s definitely harsh, but not evil. And the stepsisters? Only one–and she’s working out her own issues with her mother. The prince is a half Irish cello-playing musician who is almost too good to be true. Lots of plausible humor and drama with a healthy dose of life lessons worth noting. Four stars.
Hawaii. The esteemed destination vacation. Until recently there has always been something to prevent going: budget, weather, budget (that did deter us a couple of times), timing. YET–the hubs turned 70, the 35th anniversary arrived, and I turned 60. No excuses allowed with this triple celebration.
After some research we went with a very reasonable Costco package (seriously, check out their travel options. They offer more than a good deal on Baby Bells.)
Since we were limited to date blocks we grabbed the June package, which meant I barely submitted my grades before we hopped aboard the six-hour flight to the Garden Island: Kauai. The best part? We flew out on my birthday. Cool, huh?
Here are some revelations:
Discoveries not in the guide book:
While there are many islands to visit, it would be difficult to explore beyond Kauai. We are already saving to go back.
I began summer in the place I’m ending summer with a reverse visit switch–the same folk, different locale.
Starting my break with GiGi duty (grandma) proved an auspicious start to summer. After a week of reading Narnia, scoping out Portland’s playgrounds, tromping in summer rain, and frolicking in a water park I reloaded the car and headed for a self-imposed writer’s retreat, by borrowing my mom’s condo. I managed to get some solid work done on my authors and their cats manuscript.
Situated in my hometown, Mom’s condo is old (built in 1966) yet boasts amenities such as a pool and a large private balcony overlooking a tree lined creek. Veddy nice.
Quiet? Mostly, except for the occasional boomers who like to meet up in the community service parking lot next door after hours and their rap music bass rattles the sliding glass doors. Or the garbage truck on Tuesdsys at 5 a.m.
Peaceful is a better word. Most of the time it’s peaceful here. No constant interruptions of the trains, fairground events, traffic patterns, and ongoing construction behind our house, just a day’s drive away. The condo is perfect for decompressing.
I usually don’t need too much R&R after the school year ends. This year though… *sigh* It’d been one of those years where I wondered if it’s time I should retire. However, a rest up of two weeks in June and I was back planning lessons for the upcoming year.
July spent at home with the Hubs, I have the condo to myself after a visit my mom, who came up from Arizona to see the family, and to escape 114 degrees as well. She left, I stayed, thinking the peacefulness encountered at summer’s start would greet me once again.
I’m not quite finding it.
It must have something to do with the anticipation of school starting. Instead of reading books lounging at on the balcony in solitude, I’m polishing lesson plans. Instead of reveling in the quiet respite, I’m trying to persuade the Hubs to drop projects (even though I would really like the fact that the garage is being tidied, and the kitchen painted) and to pop in the truck and pop over. “Are you lonely?” he inquires. “Not at all,” I reply.
I believe I’m restless.
Well, dinner with my boyos and a weekend visit with my girlies and summer will be done.
It’s funny how different June can be from August in the same place.
A June donut even tastes different than an August donut.
Although school ended June 5th, I signed up for a workshop which prepares me for fall and pays me to be there, so I’m sticking it out until June 12. To celebrate my upcoming release into the almost endless days of summer, which for me involves LOTS of reading, I am finally sitting down to decide on my destinational course of action. I take my Reading Rainbow directive seriously “I can go anywhere. It’s in a book. Take a look…”
My room in its vacated student mode. I’m surprised the desks weren’t more in a tangle from students bolting out the door to summer’s beckoning…
Here are some possibilities:
King Lear: I’ve watched at least two different dramatizations which were powerfully presented, one with Ian Holm. I even began reading Jane Smiley’s Thousand Acres, a modern retelling (didn’t get too far due to her plot restructuring). I’m drawn to this play, being fascinated by Shakespeare’s penchant for family dynamics and the fact he has three women instead of the usual one or two. It’s weird to realize that in Shakespeare’s day male actors having to project the wounds of a daughter, of trying to capture of how a woman would react to a father’s rejection is fascinating because women had to be portrayed by men. Then again, we also have men portraying women–did anyone really believe Dustin Hoffman was a woman? My choice of Lear is one of considerable contemplation. Basically I’m trying to determine if I can switch to Lear from Hamlet in my AP curriculm. Going from a son’s agony to a daughter’s makes for interesting analysis. Maybe I’ll do a comparison. Here I go again–working on my supposed two months off…
Of course Harper Lee’s Watchman is at the top of the list. I will request it at the library and figure my turn will come along in time for Christmas Break reading.
I plan to browse for some middle reads, revisit some friends from childhood such as Homer Price or Henry and Ribsy. I am open to suggestions for newer middle reads, especially series. I started reading Al Capone Does My a Shirts. It has promise to continue. A kid who lived on Alcatraz?
And I am game for trying out BIG name authors whom I have yet to make an acquaintance. Maybe Clive Cussler, or Janet Evanonich. I’m taking suggestions for commercially successful authors because I need to get out of my nineteenth century rut of classics reading. I think its healthy to read a book by someone who’s presently living.
Then there is my TBR. Time to blow dust off the list and begin whittling down the titles.
And what will you be reading this summer?
Anyone try these out yet?
Boston Girl/Anita Diamant
The Remorseful Day/Dexter
Book Seller/Mark Pyor
The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction/James Thorn
Bird by Bird / Anne Lamott
Hidden Talents-David Lubar
Love, Nina/Nina Stibbe
Juliet’s Nurse/Lois Leveen