Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Left Coast Calling

An open letter to a long lost love.

We have cold oceans, but warm camp fires. We have wet rainy days, but Goretex wardrobes. We grow hops and barley and grapes. We have no shame in a Sunday brew session. We have only two seasons, but that doesn't stop us from enjoying our outdoors. Our pace is slower, our coffee is richer, our conversation is deeper and so are our connections. We protect and defend our children and celebrate their right to be who they are. Our love knows no end. We have things to do and places to go and people to see.

We have sacrifices, yes, no doubt there are sacrifices to be made. Our houses are smaller and more expensive, our salaries are smaller and our classes are bigger. Yes, on paper we are worth less. But the payoffs oh the payoffs are so much more than can be adequately described in a pros and cons list. We are more than a pros and cons list.

We have maple bars.

We are the Left Coast.

We are calling.

We miss you and we want you to come home.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Testosterone Shift

I just waved good-bye to my brother. Technically he is my brother in law, but that is only because the law says he is only related to me via marriage. To me, he is my brother and I adore him. I'm so thankful that my sister chose him. He was in town for the weekend, brought by business but mostly spent in pleasure. We had a blast hanging out and talking about the old times, the current times and the what might be times.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the what might be times.

For the record, I don't think that my husband has smiled that much in ages. He was like a kid in a candy shop and I'm pretty sure he considers Stafford to be his brother as well. Running, beer sampling, meat eating, story telling, male bonding galore at Casa de Ross this weekend. For the past 48 hours this house has been in testosterone overload. You couldn't really tell the difference, except there were a few more dirty pint glasses and a distinct running gear smell in the air. But the bonding, laughing and sense of a lost tribe member coming home were priceless and I'd gladly repeat it for the next 50 years or so. Like I said, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the what might be times.

I'm also keenly aware of the subtle shift that has taken place in my house. The testosterone shift. It's not a major fault line, there are no cracks in the surface even. It runs much deeper. In fact, the effects will only be seen if the "what might be" does not come to fruition. The difference is that I instead will be the one who picks up the pieces and offers the support. Funny how a boy might not see what he really wants until he gets a tiny glimpse of what could be. Those only children, turns out they need a brother.

Yep, I am crossing my fingers, legs, toes, and even my eyes for the "what might be" times.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Smell of August

Today I returned to my classroom in the capacity of teacher for the first time since June. I was struck by two things when I walked in.

First, everything was exactly where I wanted it. While this might not seem exciting to most people, my past experience after coming back from Summer break involved at least one full day just organizing the furniture that was dumped together in the center of the room, or worse, left out in the hall. I then had to recreate my room from scratch each year. Nothing was on the walls, nothing was out on counters, on tables or in book cases.

This year I walked back into a classroom which looks more like I have been gone a weekend rather than an entire Summer. I could begin teaching the kids tomorrow if I had to and that is all because Timber Ridge has the best janitorial staff on the planet.

Which brings me to the second best thing about walking into that room. The smell. There is nothing like the smell of an August classroom. I don't know if it is the fresh wax or the sparkling sink or what. But that smell of a new beginning, a fresh start is intoxicating. It's one of my favorite things about teaching, and while I know it will only last until the end of the first day, it makes me excited about what I do and ready to start again. It's like the spring of the school year!

So I salute you the fantastic custodians of the world. I hope that I show my appreciation on a daily basis, but if not, I hope you know how ready I am to start the new year because of you!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back in the Saddle.

The bike saddle that is. It could have been the socks that created the magic of the day. Or maybe it was the fantastic company or perfect riding conditions. Maybe it was all that sugar and fat storage I had built up over the past week of vacation. Quite frankly it doesn't really matter what the exact formula was to align the cosmos and allow me to get a taste of why I loved Mt. Biking in the first place. I'm not back to where I was, but I think I saw my MoJo not too far out ahead of me. Look out, cause MoJo Quest 2010 is on again. Oh yes Mad Skills you will be mine again, oh...you will be mine. Bwahahahahah....

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Yes, this is a happy crab. Of course it is happy, it is a cookie and cookies by nature are happy even if they are shaped like a crab. I picked up this little guy in Bandon on our vacation stop there. Little did I know that he would soon become my mascot for my classroom next year.

Why have I selected a little crab for this role you ask? Well the answer is simple. I have a feeling I'm going to be feeling a little "Crabby" this year! I learned yesterday with 11 registration days still looming out there before the first official day of school that my class enrollment currently stands at 37. With this much time before school starts it is highly likely it will increase from there.

37? Children? In my classroom at the same time? Oh holy hell are you kidding me? It's going to be like herding cats in there. I don't even have enough chairs or tables for that many kids. 37 eight year olds has the potential to be a mob if I'm not careful. They will have name tags until Halloween!

I should have known something was up when I started having my back to school nightmares while actually on vacation with Sean last week. Tonight at dinner my mom asked me if there was anything I was going to need for school this year.

Uh, I'm thinking a Margarita maker would be a nice start.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Livin' Life on the Edge!

This is pretty much what I felt like when Sean announced that this year he really wanted to take a no plans vacation. We had a few loose ideas of things we might like to check out on the way, but the only "official" plan was, "no official plans". Wow, talk about throwing Tracie completely out of her comfort zone. I like to plan everything right down to the exact detail. This didn't sit well with me although, I think I faked it pretty well. Only Erin knew the true extent of my terror of this "no plans", plan. But, I put on my big girl pants and got over it. The Ross Magical Mystery Tour was born.

So as it turns out, the no plan vacation was about the coolest thing we have ever done. I loved it and would highly recommend that everyone give it a shot at least once. I think we have started on the first of many adventures to come that will involve pointing the car in the direction of the day and just going for it. After all, isn't that really what those damn bucket lists are all about anyway? Living life, not talking about living life. Life on the edge. I kinda like it!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dream a little dream..

I will never forget the day I got up before the sun and stood on my parents back porch and waved as my sister and her family drove away to their new life in North Carolina. That day my heart broke into a million little pieces. I had no idea that it was possible to cry as many tears as I did that day. I never thought I would be whole again.

My sister and I have a bizarre relationship. We are nearly seven years apart, but I believe that we couldn't be closer if we were identical twins. We always joke that we are twins but there was just a slight delay in the birth of the second. She is my best friend and I can't remember any major fight that lasted longer than a few hours or so our entire lives. I was so excited to get her in my life and will treasure her always. A long distance relationship is difficult to maintain. There is no doubt about that, but we have made the best of it with 3000+ miles between us. In the time she has been gone she has had a daughter that I only know through visits a couple times of year at best. But just like her older brother, I couldn't love her more if she was my own.

And so when the e-mail came when I was visiting them last week that there was a slight possibility of a job opportunity back here in Oregon I could hardly contain myself. I listened as they discussed the pros and cons of moving back here, of the job itself, of removing the kids from a school the love and friends they know. I felt selfish for wanting it and tried desperately to convince myself that they are at their home there, that Oregon is my home, not theirs anymore. Yet try as I might, a tiny little flame of hope started burning deep inside my heart that had gone dormant so many years ago.

The process is a slow one and they are no closer to a decision than they were when I was visiting. They did decide to continue with the application process which may lead to an interview which would at least give more information to make the best decision for their family. Her family, not mine. But in the meantime, try as I might not to get my hopes up, I know it is too late. In my head I am planning the fantasy of the return. I keep trying to reel myself back knowing in my brain that this is not reality, but fantasy at this point in time. If it doesn't come through in the end, I will understand and I will pick up the pieces again. I know I will have support to get through it again.

But the dream of what could be..Oh the dream. Imagine what would have happened if so many of the amazing individuals in our lifetimes gave up on the dream. Sometimes it is all we have and I for one am going to revel in it for the time being.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Got Dirt?

This is what 21 years of marriage looks like at my house! I came home from vacation last night to a beautifully wrapped present on my sideboard. Much to my surprise, this is all the loot that was inside. While on first glance this looks fantastic enough, it is the gift behind the gift that means the absolute most to me.

For those of you not familiar with the now traditional 21 year gift of "dirt" in the anniversary list, this is all mt. bike gear. I have a new stem and handlebars, ZuZu's pedals (yes, after my favorite movie no less) and five-ten grip shoes. Oh, and he got me flowers too. Sunflowers, my favorite, on socks, which means they won't die which makes them his favorite too.

Why is this stuff so important and why am I so excited about it after the 21 years of hard time I've put in to earn them? Well, it shows that he finally listened to me and is respecting my wishes. I am not a clipless pedal girl. I have fought them for at least the 21 years we have been married and I'm pretty sure they are a major factor in the lost mojo of the previous posts.

And so on this anniversary, Sean has given me all the very best products to be a crazy ass, dirt girl and reclaim my place on those beautiful trails! No longer will I have to battle for balance in a quick response necessary situation by fighting my pedals for control of my foot. The fact that he has given me this gift is his way of raising the white flag and respecting that I actually know what I need.

Screw those traditional lists. Screw those shinny rings, bobbles and such. No fancy dinner needed. Keep your leather, lace, paper. This "dirt" anniversary goes into the record books as hands down the best ever! Thanks Sean Ross for knowing what this girl wants and being man enough to give it to her.