Summer Time

With the school year over, my To-Do List looks a little different:

1. Wake up to daylight.

2. Have a second cup of coffee.  Finish the coffee while it is still hot.  

3. Pee whenever I want to.

4. Hydrate.

5. Repeat item 3.

6. Be outside.

7. Eat when I am actually hungry.

8. Think about things.

9.Drink more coffee later with ice cubes because it is a choice, not because it is what sits before me from morning.

I am pleased to report that on Day 3, I am wildly successful in completing this To-Do List.  Not that it has been easy. Take item 4, for example.  Whoever decided that everyone should drink 64 ounces of water a day must also have invented water-boarding as a form of torture.  I do love my chilled water (infused with natural flavors), but by ounce 48 I’m drowning.  However, I have flushed 2 lbs out of my body, so I will Keep Hydrating and Carry On.

The real struggle is with my addiction to To-Do Lists. I have other Lists for this summer.

  • All the things I need to do to be better prepared for the next school year. (As though,after 33 years in the classroom,I am unprepared.  Still…)
  • All the things I need to do around the house because it fell into near total chaos during the school year.  Only the bi-weekly sprint to tidy before the cleaning ladies arrived saved us from total disaster.
  • All the things I need to do to be the perfectly healthy individual that everyone else I know is.  Or at least so I can visit the doctor for a checkup and not cringe.
  • All the people I am going to invite over because I don’t have the overstimulation of the work week as an excuse and because introverts love to spend their vacation hosting events.  (FYI, for an introvert, hosting more than 2 people is an event.  So if I invite just two of you over,  consider than an act of love.  More than two, I am sacrificing myself on your behalf.)
  • All the summery fun things I need to do to feel like I had a vacation.

So, yeah, the list of Lists is fraught with opportunities for failure.  There is no way to do this.  And each of these Lists comes with Sub-Lists.  And yet I need the Lists or I will do nothing.  It’s like my WeekSheet of lesson plans.  I may not get everything done by Friday,  but I come a whole lot closer if I work to the plan.

A missionary to Cameroon shared at church last Sunday his struggle with being back in the States for a year.  The Africans have a saying, “Westerners have clocks; Africans have time.” It is hard to shift from one timeframe to another.  That really resonated with my launch into summer.  I have a “need” To Do while simultaneously desiring a break from the tyranny of doing.  I long to discern the difference between maximizing my minutes and fully living in time. I long for a compromise between the list the top of this page and the List of Lists lurking beneath it.

For the moment, my compromise is looking like this:

  • Look at each day as a day of possibilities. What can I do as opposed to what ought I to do? (Being the first-born that I inescapably am, my “can-I’s” will surely contain enought “oughts” to keep me from sliding into total slothful irresponsibility.)
  • Follow the nudges of the Holy Spirit and be open to divine appointments.

And for the immediate moment, I am behind on my water intake and I have to go to the bathroom.


Slightly Off the Grid

Dueling blog posts, that’s what I’m envisioning.  My sister-in-law and I will  be in France for two weeks, and I just know that all the amazing décor over there will inspire endless blog posts from her over at Now That You are Home.  But someone has to chronicle the other side of the trip.  For instance:

  • Will we get to France on the Air France operated Delta flight or the Delta operated Delta flight?  The next 24 hours will tell whether the Air France pilot strike is affecting our direct flight to  Paris.
  • Will the Seine recover from its 32 year high flood levels in time for us to take our deposit-paid dinner cruise?
  • Will there be gas in gas stations to fuel the two count-em two rental cars we reserved to get us to and around Normandy?
  • Will Paris clean up the strike-induced piles of uncollected garbage before we arrive?
  • Will the Tour Eiffel be safer from terrorists with all the extra security for the Euro Cup or should be stay clear of the humongous fan zone set up on the Champs de Mars?
  • Will it stop raining?
  • And the big question: will the Wilson siblings be able to use normal people indoor voices for two whole weeks?

Inquiring minds want to know.  My mom wants to know.  I want to know.  And I don’t want to constantly re-tell the stories when we  get back home, because there is usually one version that is the best.  The others are boring repetitions.  I hope I can get the best one recorded here.

So, after a year of non-blogging, it is time to resurrect this thing with a fresh identity.  My cousin suggested the new name.  It was he who thought Maywood Living was a retirement home and said that I was neither a true pioneer nor all that reluctant, but I am slightly off the grid in many ways.  Ok.  I agree.

This not so reluctant non-pioneer is leaving the slightly off-MapQuest-grid house for adventures abroad with spouse and siblings.

Let the blog-fest begin.


This is not a stock photo!  I took this my very own self in 2010.

Behind Closed Doors

It’s another snowy day and, while Maywood Man braves the elements to keep tractors running, slays a tree for firewood, and plows us out, I need to do something more than read by the fire to justify my existence.

Pumpkin soup, venison chili, and fennel tea cookies are not sufficient offering. No, I must do something truly sacrificial.

I will clean out the bedroom closets.

Saturday while the snow pours down, I tackle my closet.  All I do is remove hangers that have nothing hanging on them.  The floor is covered with hangers.  I separate them into three piles:

  • Tangled wire dry-cleaner hangers that date to when Julie worked at a dry-cleaners and got free dry-cleaning and I sent sweaters regularly to be cleaned instead of washing them on “delicate” and spreading them out on towels on the floor to dry where the (now-deceased) cat could pee on them.
  • Plastic hangers that once hung in perfect uniformity on store racks but hang at an annoying variety of heights in the home closet.
  • Color coordinated hangers that I actually bought from Target.

The Target hangers go back in the closet.  The other hangers–just from my side of the closet–fill two paper grocery bags. (You can’t dispose of wire hangers in a plastic bag or they–the hangers– will kill you.)

Down on the floor, I say farewell to backless shoes that are no good to walk in, orthopedic shoes that supported me in my pre-bionic hip days, and any shoe that would make me cringe in shame if I were standing next to my sister-in-law Eileen.  So that clears out some space. I even have some shoes left in the closet.

I lift a pile of old sweaters, thrust once upon a time into the closet in a tidying fit and then abandoned. I discover evidence of a mouse.

Just for the record…don’t ever offer me food with black sesame seeds on it, ok?

The floor must be vacuumed. I haul the vacuum up from the family room where John used it to vacuum the filthy bits of log debris by the fireplace.  It won’t even suck up a little piece of thread.

I don’t care that John slayed a tree to keep me warm by the fire.  He busted the vacuum with wood chips.  He must fix it.

And he does.

Back in the closet I turn on the now functioning vacuum, move the suitcase, and scare the MOUSE who was hiding under it and who now scurries around the closet trying to flee the vacuum and the crazy screaming woman.

I slam the closet doors and position the running vacuum in front of them to scare the mouse from coming out.

John investigates and can not find the mouse.  I vacuum the closet. He sets a trap. I call it quits for the day on closet cleaning.

A few hours later, I send John to check the trap.  He returns with the snapped mouse.

“Is this him?”

Probably.  But how would I know if it were the country mouse or his cousin from town?

So now it is a new day.  A bright sunny above freezing day.  And John’s closet awaits.  Oh, Lordy, who knows what lurks behind those closed doors?


Every now and then I wake up and feel…fine.

No complaints.

Quite satisfactory.  (To some Brits that means “deliriously wonderful” but I do mean “quite satisfactory.”)

This naturally involves waking up to  daylight.  (It is never fine to wake up at 5:30 a.m.) And it may coincide with not having to hurry up to be anywhere. (Like work.) It helps to have an absence of family drama like births, deaths, and changes in marital status.  Maybe it’s the 5000 units of Vitamin D the doctor has me taking.  Maybe it’s the cortisone shot to the knee.  Whatever.  It is fine to not feel any particular body part announcing a new breakdown.

I feel fine.

On such a fine day…9 degrees with a wind chill of a gazillion… I am not plagued by “shoulds” and “musts” and “have-to’s.”   It’s just a day.

A fine day.

To clean out cupboards.

Sometimes you just need to clean the cupboards. I’m not being metaphorical or talking about massive decluttering and redoing a closet with a cool idea gleaned from Pinterest. I’m just talking about a fine day with nothing on the agenda but taking things out of cupboards, wiping them down, and putting everything back in.

A fine old ordinary day to do ordinary things.

I’m not even doing it in a panic over the possibility of my mother seeing my household organizational disaster. Well, ok, there was a certain level of “no one must ever see this!” when I discovered evidence of mice in the powder room cabinet.  And, yes, that’s why I tackled the cupboards, but it’s not why I keep on doing more cupboards.

I am enjoying it.

Oh my gosh, I am still turning into my mother.  Not my young mother who exclaimed, “Eat it or wear it!” to a her tableful of children.  Not my older mother who berated her teenagers, “How can you live like this?” as dust bunnies rolled like tumbleweeds down the stairs. No, this is my older mother, who has her advance directive hanging on the fridge “just in case” paramedics might need to find it.

Oh, it’s ok.   Not deliriously wonderful, but it’s fine.  Really.  Quite satisfactory.

No complaints.

But enough of this.  My shoe closet is calling me.  It’s a fine day for organizing.



All that glitters

All that sparkles is not glitter

All that sparkles is not glitter

That extra sparkle about me this season? It ain’t Christmas cheer. It’s that daggone glitter on the wrapping paper.
Seriously, wrapping paper with glitter on it should come with a warning label. CAUTION: Contents of this shrink-wrapped tube of paper contain microscopic bits of green sparkles that will stick to every surface they contact, including your clothes, hair, and under your fingernails.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m all about twinkling and shining. My collection of silver bells gives me great joy. Twinkly lights adorn cabinets tops, mantles, and doorways throughout the house. Candles glow everywhere. I love light and sparkle and shine and all the brightness of Christmas.

I just think that there should be a special place in hell reserved for the inventor of glitter. I have wrapped one gift and already I’m blinking like a Christmas tree. The Scotch tape has so much glitter dust on it, I’m surprised it even sticks to anything. The countertop has a green hue to it. Every single gift I wrap, no matter how plain the paper, will now have glitter on it. My daughter, recipient of the afore-mentioned glitter gift, will take glitter home with her and it will stick to everything in her home. That’s after it sticks to everyone who comes to my home for Christmas.

Why isn’t there some environmental commission investigating this??? Surely glitter does not decompose. Apocalyptic films have completely ignored this environmental disaster. When the planet has been nuked and life as we know it has disappeared, there will be nothing left but cockroaches and…that’s right, glitter.

‘Nuff said.
Ho! Ho! Ho! May your Christmas be merry and bright.

Appropriate twinkles

Appropriate twinkles

Where’s Mom?

Having problems trying to post this to Facebook…

Slightly Off the Grid

When we were little, my siblings and I used to do hide-and-seek with my mother. It wasn’t a game. She was really hiding. And we were seeking. It was a big house–three floors plus a basement–and as we climbed the stairs calling, “Mom! Mooooooooooooommmmmmm!” we were sure that she must have gone down to one floor while we were ascending to another. Years later, when we were in high school ( and a smaller house), we learned that Mom had been hiding in her walk-in closet. It was her only refuge. We always found her if she tried to sneak a minute of peace in the bathroom.

My cell phone rings. It’s my sister. The one who wasn’t born yet when Mom played hide-and-seek.

“Where’s Mom?”

First thought: How the heck should I know?
Second thought: It’s the day she volunteers at the soup kitchen, but she would have been…

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The Reluctant Pioneer

Hear ye, hear ye!  I’m changing the name of this blog from Maywood Living to The Reluctant Pioneer.

(I’ll make the switch after I post this, so you dear subcribers don’t get all confused.)

Why the name  change?

A cousin once told my mother that he didn’t read the post she sent him because he thought it was an ad for a retirement home.  To be honest, I wish it were my retirement home.  Alas, we have many miles to go before retirement.  My in-laws are next-door, though, living at Maywood in their eighties, so it is a retirement home for some of us.  Still…

Maywood Living bores me.  It bores me so much I don’t want to write posts.  It makes me feel like I have to be posting cute little crafty things for Pinterest. Occasionally cute and/or useful information does appear here, but, more often than not, living at Maywood involves giant mutant pumpkins, attacks by carpenter bees, and invasions of hunters, grandchildren, or Asian students.

I’m not a Martha Stewart wanna-bee.  Or even The Pioneer Woman.  (I would have taken that name, though.)  My husband calls me his Pioneer Wife, but I am a reluctant pioneer.  I regularly look around and think, “How the heck did I end up here?”


But I take a second look and think,”How cool is this?”

So, the beekeeping and the mutant pumpkins and the invasions of critters and people continue… but alongside all the other pioneering aspects of life that have nothing to do with country living, like teaching in a Cloud or learning new software updates to my phone.

Now let’s see if I can manage this switch without deleting everything.

What’s in Your Freezer?

Forget the wallet. There’s nothing in there but club cards to stores I frequent. What’s in the freezer is a much more interesting topic.

Certain current and former colleagues will recall a Christmas party at our house at which we revealed little freezer bags filled with skinned squirrels, frozen in all their scrawny nakedness. The ensuing conversation revolved around all the staff members who had ever eaten squirrel. Based on the number of people who had eaten squirrel, one would not have thought that we were advanced degreed educators living a mere hour from the sophistication of Washington D.C.

In our defense, I must say that those squirrels ended up in a very tasty French recipe,soaked for three days in cognac. Ok, I personally couldn’t eat the meat,having watched the squirrels splayed on the ping pong table being skinned, but it was quite a flavorful stew.

Then there was our (third) daughter’s wedding where the groom had to be warned not to open the green trash bag in the mancave freezer. It contained a decapitated deer head, with antlers of course, awaiting a trip to the taxidermist. The deer, in all it’s taxidermied glory, now watches over football games wearing a Raven’s cap. The freezer is currently available for things like ice cubes.

My niece’s husband recently got a deer with a very nice rack on it and he wondered if he could store the head in our freezer. Ha ha, no. John suggested he put it in his father-in-law/my brother’s freezer. I’m guessing that went well…I haven’t heard yelling from my brother yet.

Our currant unorthodox freezer arrangement involves bee hives. Bee hives can not just sit around in the mud room. Critters like them. Ants, for starters. And wax moths, for keeps. After spinning the honey in July, the honey box sat in the mud room for a little while. To ensure that no unauthorized squatters had taken up residence, Mr. Beekeeper put the frames on ice. A little time locked in the freezer will kill off unwanted pests.

The difference between freezer storage versus fridge storage is that stuff can stay in the freezer indefinitely. It might get freezer burn, but it doesn’t get moldy or liquefy and drip into every inaccessible crevice. It sits there gathering ice crystals until you have to make room for something else. It may be inedible, but it doesn’t smell bad. Hey, my mom used to put garbage in the freezer so it wouldn’t stink up the trash.

The current batch of hive frames will be ousted soon. We have a dead hive whose hive box has been taken over by wax moths that need to die. Freezer as execution chamber. Some people store dead stuff in the freezer till trash night. Others store stuff in the freezer to kill it off.

So what’s in your freezer? And don’t tell me it is full of apple pies and peach cake. I will believe you but I will be bored.


Yesterday I planned to shampoo the family room carpet. It had not been cleaned in you don’t want to know how long. A year ago we were putting newborn grandbabies on sterile blankets to protect them from the floor. This year I needed a sterilizer to clean the floor from the spitting, scooting, toddling grandbabies.

Daughters used to inherit vacuum cleaners.  Don't tell me this machine is obsolete.

Daughters used to inherit vacuum cleaners. Don’t tell me this machine is obsolete.

The first step was to locate the shampooer– or hot water dirt extractor, to be precise. In my attempt to create an actual guest room, it had been relocated from a bedroom closet…where I always knew where it was and where it stayed wonderfully new looking. Somehow it ended up in one of the dusty dungeons of death in the depths of the man cave. Covered in a layer of sawdust.

And missing one little part.

A small plastic part of the return water receptacle. The part that creates the suction to pull the dirty water into the container.

After a fruitless search of logical places where I might have stashed it and total despair at the thought of entering the dusty dungeon of death, I did an internet search for replacement parts. I was fully aware that I would have to replace the entire return water receptacle in order to get a new little plastic thingy.

My search informed me that the plastic receptacles for my rug shampooer are obsolete. Obsolete! How can a plastic container become obsolete?

According to, obsolete means “fallen into disuse.” Ok, I admit that I haven’t been using the rug cleaner much lately, but it was still in perfectly good working condition.

Another definition says, “effaced by wearing away.” It was not worn away. I lost it.

Here is where my rant takes off. “To make obsolete by replacing with something newer or better.” My shampooer parts are obsolete because the manufacturer just decided to stop making them. The manufacturer would prefer that I buy a whole new machine.

There is nothing wrong with the one I have! Well, except that it is missing this little obsolete part that happens to be crucial for the effective operation of the machine.

That made me fighting mad. I do not want to buy a whole new machine. Why do I have to replace a gently used ten year old rug cleaner while my husband is still “farming” with a 1952 tractor? But, ah, there lies my glimmer of hope. When battling planned obsolescence, there is no one better to turn to than a man-cave dweller. And a roll of duct tape.

It’s not pretty, but it worked.


Duct tape will never become obsolete.

Thank you, Man-cave Dweller!

Thank you, Man-cave Dweller!