The Greening of Portland

28 Mar

We’ve had a lot of rain this Winter & Spring.

A local TV station posts daily rainfall updates and I like to see how much above “normal” we are. Today’s stats are as follows:

MARCH RAIN to Date: 7.01″ Departure from Normal: +3.75″

Rainfall since October 1st (water year): 41.25″ Departure from Normal: +15.33″

As I drive home over the Marquam Bridge, I look at one of the  Portland’s many other bridges, the Hawthorne Bridge. It has numbered markings on its tower foundations and I use these to help me monitor the height of the Willamette River. The markings are now under water.

One of the really funny aspects of the wet Pacific NW climate is how non-living things turn green with moss.

The asphalt in parking lots has taken on a greenish hue,

as have the back steps of my home.

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These rocks in my garden are positively fuzzy.

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But the best bit of out of place greenery is growing on my neighbor’s car.

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Seeing myself in 20 years

27 Mar

A few days ago, Maura (mlb1202)  wrote a post entitled “A Good Deed“.  It has stuck with me because, at 52, I am starting to see myself  in twenty years.

I am healthy, but my body is creaky and it has made me more sensitive to the elderly around me. Maybe I’m also more sensitive because my mother is an almost 86-year-old widow who still lives alone. I used to be impatient with old people, now I have patience for them: the old man trying to use his newly chipped ATM card for the first time, the woman counting coins out of her purse in the grocery line. You probably see them, too.

I think this is on my mind because, last week, on a day when there was little rain but a lot of wind and  puddles, I saw an elderly woman struggle. I was sitting at a stoplight and I saw her approach the crosswalk with her wire grocery cart. There was a big puddle where the sidewalk met the crosswalk. I saw her push the cart into the crosswalk as the white “walk” man turned into the flashing red “stop” hand. She’s not going to make it, I thought.

I watched her wrestle the cart as the hand continued to flash. There must have been a pothole because  was still struggling when the flashing stopped and the hand remained, commanding her to be still. And then she was walking, slowly across the road as my light turned from red to green. She looked at me for a moment and I nodded, letting her know I would wait. She was slow, but not so slow that I had to wait for another green light.

I drove off hoping that other drivers would be patient with her and others like her.

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Starting over

26 Mar

Knitting socks is one of my small pleasures. In the last month I have made several pairs using hand dyed yarn, using the same pattern. But, sometimes I need a change and when my February Herstory skein arrived in a solid color, I knew I would need a different pattern.

I chose a pattern I’d knit a few years ago for my sister. It has a strong texture pattern, that shows off the yarn, and looks much harder than it is. It is really all math and repeated patterns.

The thing about knit socks is that you knit them to fit. The directions tell you to make the foot a certain length, knowing that every foot is different. the once place you can generally count on being accurate is the toe length.

The pattern I was knitting said I should repeat the foot pattern 10 times, but it should measure “2-1/4″ (5.5cm) less than the desired total length”. I have small feet so knew I probably wouldn’t have to do 10, I did nine, tried them on and decided it was the right place to stop the foot pattern and begin decreasing for the toe.

As always, I tried it on as soon as it the ends were woven in and I was disappointed. They were just a little too short. I let them sit overnight.

The next morning I got my scissors and cut the toe. I pulled on the ends, taking away the little shreds and began the unravelling of the toe. It was over in a matter of minutes. I picked up the stitches , unknit one more row, then began adding one more round of the foot pattern before knitting the new toe.

And voilà, a sock that fits.

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I know many people who like to knit two at a time on circular needles to prevent second sock syndrome (After having finished one sock it becomes difficult to go on and finish the second one to make a pair). I prefer the traditional one at a time, on double-pointed straight needles. Call me old-fashioned, but this time it served me well, because I might have had to rip out two toes.

Spring Break: Day 1

25 Mar

Although today is the first day of Spring Break, in my mind it began at 4 p.m. yesterday. It won’t really feel like Spring Break until Monday when I won’t have to do to school. An informal poll in my classes let me know that most students were enjoying a Staycation. That was a new word for most of them and they really liked it.

My plans for today are simple.

  • drink coffee and write this post.
  •  read/knit/drink tea
  • nap – maybe before lunch, maybe after
  • take a couple of walks with Lucy

I’ve only ever gone away for Spring Break once. Mostly, I like to stay home and regenerate, so I can finish the school year strong.

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How do you tire 6th graders?

24 Mar

The docent at the Tillamook Forest Center told me they’d had 10 days without rain since October. Fortunately, yesterday, our field trip day, was one of those ten.

Because the trip was a long distance, we rode in motor coaches rather than school buses. Never having been there, I didn’t know what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised when we turned of the narrow highway.

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Fearing sheds and cold bathrooms, I was greeted by a modern interpretive center!

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After orientation, kids were rotated through 5 stations and and al fresco lunch. I manned the Exhibit Hall and, after the first rotation, I could find everything the kids needed to discover on the scavenger hunt they had to do there.

So, you may be wondering, how do you tire 6th graders?

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Send them to the top of the Lookout!

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Definitions

23 Mar

Although the students I teach are gifted, they have, for the most part, led sheltered lives. They can read difficult texts, but sometimes lack the maturity or life experience to understand everything. It is a challenge to be a gifted 6th grade reader.

As a result, students occasionally come across words in their reading that they don’t know. Some of them skip the words, some of them look them up, and a few come to ask me. I almost never decline. I want them to know they can ask me anything. I will occasionally give a quick definition coupled with encouragement to get more details from a parent, but I will always tell them something.

The best one came today. We read Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder” which contains the lines

From his loins would have sprung ten sons. From their loins one hundred sons, and thus onward  to a civilization.

As students were annotating the text, a boy asked me what “loins” meant. I might have used the term “downstairs” and mentioned the body between the belly button and knees. He nodded and understood.

Another student sitting nearby overheard our conversation. I saw the color drain from his face as he said, “Like pork loin?”

I could imagine what he was thinking, so I said, “That comes from a pig’s side.” I wasn’t sure that was true, but I didn’t want to ruin pork loin for him forever.

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Why I love teaching middle school

22 Mar

I walked behind the two boys as they ambled down the hallway. Seventh graders?  I wondered. One, tall and husky, had a walking cast and the build of someone likely to be recruited for football when he got to high school. The other was short and wiry. Seeing them together got me thinking about the old Looney Tunes cartoon of Chester and Spike.

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“Spike” limped along while “Chester” jumped to hit every doorway. Yup, almost certainly 7th graders. They turned in to the boy’s bathroom and exited almost immediately. “Chester”, his shirt pulled over his nose, looked at me and said, “Somebody farted.”

I laughed and kept walking. Middle schoolers just make me laugh.

 

 

 

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