Suddenly November

I am so happy that election week has passed. Amen?

Fall, which is usually my favorite time of year, has been an unsettling season thus far. Our family has been broken-hearted following the passing of my father-in-law last month. The mid-term election was a distraction amidst our grief. The non-stop drama didn’t end on November 6th, and continues on today.

Somewhere in all that chaos, November arrived. This realization hit me when the Black Friday ads spilled out of the newspaper this week. Ugh!

First things first. We finally tossed the Jack-o’-lantern that was sitting on our front steps. His toothy grin stuck around as long as the leftover Halloween candy. Both needed to go.

Next, my mom and brother came to visit and we dug out our fall decorations. This is something we usually do together in early September, but the delay didn’t seem to bother anyone. It was a crucial step in preparing our home for the coming holiday season and the long, cozy winter months ahead.

Yesterday we spent much of the day relocating our daughter’s two house rabbits, Max and Charlie, from the guest room to the basement. That sounds simple enough, but it was quite an undertaking! Each has his own hutch, toys, litterbox and dishes. Then there is the food — assorted types of hay, timothy pellets and treats. The move was stressful for the bunnies, even though it was only down two flights of stairs. We love them dearly, but look forward to the day that all three of them find a place of their own. In the meantime, our son deserves a proper (and rabbit-free) guest room, as opposed to the sofa in the basement, when he visits us later this month.

Photo from wilddelight.com

The weather is feeling more autumnal too. We had our first real freeze last night and the remainder of our flower garden died. The zinnias were blooming through last week, but now everything is brown and wilted. The birdbath had ice on it this morning, so it was time to add the heater. Our daughter filled all the feeders today and told me the Dark-eyed Juncos had arrived! This is a sure sign that winter is on its way.

I know many people dread the colder months, but I enjoy living where there is a clear distinction between seasons. What Northern Virginia lacks in fall color (from my perspective as a former New Englander), it more than compensates with its beautiful springtime blossoms. Our summers are hot and steamy, and our winters are damp and windy. Snow is hit or miss (mainly miss) but every now and then we get walloped.

But now I must pause before looking too far ahead. November is where we are now. I am determined to focus on each day as it comes and stop fixating on what I cannot predict or change.

I know that the Lord wants me to live in the present — not on the past or the future — but the now. And that is where I plan to be.

Learning Curve

One of my few regrets in life is that I never went to college. Sure, I would have loved to have that opportunity, but it wasn’t a huge priority for me or for my parents. Over the years though, I’ve never had trouble finding a job, and if I didn’t have the skills I needed, I just learned them along the way.

In the early 80’s, I didn’t experience the pressure to attend college as kids do today. In my mind, college was optional. Trade schools were widely available, but were generally considered an alternative to college, usually reserved for kids with the the lower GPAs. The only alternative schools/trades I ever heard about were cosmetology and auto mechanics.

In today’s competitive world, it is expected that kids will attend college. We expected our two kids to attend college, and they both did, but neither were really using that expensive education in a career . . . until now.

Three years post-graduation with an Art degree (her third, and final major), our daughter is moving into a trade. She is becoming a welder! It’s a skill she tried briefly in one of her college art courses, but it remained in the back of her mind until she grew tired of the retail industry. At the age of 26, she is joining a trade that up until now has been strictly male-dominated. She’ll be learning a valuable, and highly marketable skill. If you do your research you will find that plenty of other women are jumping into the trades too. We’re very proud of her!

I have had many people tell me that I can still go to college. It’s never too late, right? I’ve pondered that thought and wondered what I might study in my retirement.

Seven years ago while on vacation in California wine country, we had the opportunity to dine at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). It was amazing! Everything was prepared by the students, from the table setting, meal preparation and presentation, to the wine pairing and dessert menu. My description of this main course of garden vegetable risotto (pictured) was simply one word: bliss.

Ever since that vacation, and another visit to the CIA in Hyde Park, NY, I have secretly wanted to be a chef. I received a gift of The Great Courses The Joy of Mediterranean Cooking, and have become a huge fan of Chef Bill Briwa, an instructor from the California CIA who guides this course. My goal is to visit the two remaining CIA locations in San Antonio, TX, and recently discovered (as of 2 minutes ago) Singapore location.

My fall-back majors would be Genealogy and Ornithology, in that order. I’ll probably hold off on submitting any applications though until college tuition is free for seniors. 😉

I chose Psalm 32:8 as my featured verse for this post because it really sums up my life to this point. The Lord has lovingly provided me with so many opportunities — career and more — as well as the skills needed to complete every task. Adding a college degree may or may not be part of His future plans for me, but I am always eager to learn something new!