Archive | March, 2014

Taming SOLSC 31

31 Mar

I started this month commenting about how busy life felt. Here we are at the end of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, the end of Spring Break, and going back to life as normal. School should be calm today. The kids are always sleepy the first day back after a break.

When I started the Challenge, I felt a little overwhelmed and wondered if I could do it. Although it took a little discipline, it was easier to find things to write about than I thought. Thank you to everyone who read and to everyone who commented. I read more than I commented on, and so my goal for next year is to comment more. Yes, I intend to participate next year. There was a point partway through when I thought I wouldn’t, but at the end, I can;t imagine not doing this again next year.

The End has me thinking of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.





“No,” said the little prince. “I am looking for friends. What does that mean–‘tame’?”

“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. It means to establish ties.”

“‘To establish ties’?”

“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . .”

Thank you the everyone who read, commented inspired  and tamed me. You are  unique in all the world.

Spring Break Tally SOLSC 30

30 Mar

Spring Break is almost over. I go back to work on Monday,where, all the rest & relaxation of this week will probably disappear because we have conferences starting on Wednesday. That means two 12 hour days. Not good for a morning person. Ah well…

As Spring Break winds down, I thought I’d take stock of what I intended to do and what I actually accomplished. Here are my lists.

Things started before Break, but finished during Break

1. The adult sweater I knit for the ASA Gala auction. (see picture below)

2. The Interestings by Meg Wohlitzer

3. Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

4. adoptions finalized for 2 puppies (Biscuit & Trixie)


Things started and finished during Break

1. The child sweater I knit for the ASA Gala auction. Both will be turned in today.

2.  Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

3.  Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

4. Dahlias planted.

5. ORELA test for Middle School Language Arts


Things I intended to do during Break, but didn’t

1.Take a nap everyday. I only managed this once, on Thursday.

2. Go through my files and shred. UGH. Such a mundane task.

3. Hang the pictures I had taken of the girls in December. I’ve had the prints  and the frames for a while. But I used the frames to block the sweaters. Maybe I’ll hang them next week.

4. Start The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Obsessive knitting kept me from starting this book. Just one more row. I really wanted to turn the sweaters in at church today.


Here’s a picture of the sweaters. They look OK, but  I am not thrilled with my color choices. I wanted something that a mother and daughter could wear together without the mother looking like she was a little girl. They look better here than they do in my house. I think I just need a little distance form the project.





Last Night’s Dream SOLSC 29

29 Mar

It’s funny how our brains use dreams to make sense of what happens during the day. I had a wacky dream last night that is easily explained by what I’ve been doing for the last few days.

Perhaps you recall the puppies Oregon Basset Hound Rescue rehomed a few weeks ago. For the last couple of days I have been on the phone making arrangements to meet and sign the final, official adoption paperwork. So. I’ve had bassets on the brain. Last night I was knitting in bed watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  I guess I went to bed with Hogwarts on the brain because I had the most remarkable dream.

A castle was available in France. Free. I was making arrangements to become the new proprietor so I could create a basset hound rescue in it. The castle did not really look like Hogwarts. In fact, it looked more like this castle, the Chateau de Chambord.


Apparently I also had a student teacher and she and her advisor were also involved in some way. those details escape me now. I woke up before the deal was finalized, but the outlook was good.


Planting Dahlias

28 Mar

I had a large garden at my old house. Here, in the condominium, I am a container gardener. In past years I have varied between pots of tomatoes and basil and flower baskets purchased through school fundraiser. This year, though, I’ve been nostalgic for my dahlia garden.

One part of the yard at my old house was devoted to dahlias. In some ways, I think of them as grandma flowers. They are old-fashioned, but I love their size, hardiness and colors. So, I bought some bulbs this year and today, I planted them in the pots on my front stoop. They make such lovely cut flowers and I do love to have them inside the house. They are planted and now I have to wait.

The beauty of a pre-fab flower basket is that the arrive in bloom. By planting my own dahlias, I get the joy of anticipation, the joy of watching the green shoots emerge and the flowers bloom, as spring becomes summer and summer becomes fall. I have to be patient, but  it becomes its own special way of measuring the passage of time.


Read the Label SOLSC 27

27 Mar

I was standing in the kitchen this morning, waiting for the coffee to brew and marveling at the fact that I’d slept in until 7. As my eyes wandered around the kitchen,they landed on the bottle of Fiona’s new antibiotic.

We finally got the results of the ear culture last Friday. The bacteria in her ears is resistant to almost everything, including the drops we had been using for over a year. Her ear vet prescribed an oral antibiotic, Clindamycin, and drops that had to be mixed up at a compounding pharmacy, Polymixin. Ploymixin is new to me, but I have great affection for Clindamycin because it was my drug of choice when I went through six MRSA infections in my legs several years ago.

As I was saying, my eyes landed on the bottle of Fiona’s new antibiotic and I got to thinking about the size of the bottle. She is supposed to be on the medication for four weeks. Even though she’s been on it since Monday,  it seemed that the bottle looked full. So I picked it up and read the label to see how many capsules were in the bottle. And that;s when I realized my error. The label says “Give 2 capsules twice daily for 4 weeks, with food.” Oopsy. I’ve only been giving one capsule twice daily.

I don’t remember actually reading the label before this morning. And I certainly don’t remember  what was said to me when I picked up the meds. But, from this morning on, Fiona is getting 2 capsules twice a day.


Stories in Teacups SOLSC 26

26 Mar

Most days, I drink my tea in a mug. But every once in a while, I pull out a china teacup. Sometimes I do it to raise my spirits. Sometimes I do it because I am feeling so content. I have never purchased any of my teacups; they’ve all been gifts. And a few have some stories to tell.


This is the Centennial Rose teacup by Royal Albert, created especially for Canada’s Centennial in 1967.I was three at the time of the Centennial but remember this cup, though I was not allowed to use it. I was however, dressed up like a little girl from 1867. I am certain my mother made the dresses she, my sister and I are wearing in this photo.

Scan 13

As a child, I took my tea with a  lot of milk and sugar. On the rare days we had sugar cubes, I loved dipping the cube into the tea and sucking out the sweet liquid. My mother let me take this teacup as my parents were beginning to downsize in anticipation of a move into an apartment. She also let me take this cup.


It was always my favorite. Sometimes, just for fun, we’d get out the china teacups. Some family members always chose the someone, some people chose a different one each time. This was always the one I chose. I think I was initially  attracted to the gold along the edges. Over time, I grew to love its feel and shape as I drank. It is a pattern called Golden Rose, made by Royal Chelsea.

In the first home I bought in Portland, I had an elderly neighbor named Kay who lived directly across the street. She was in her 90’s, and still lived alone, although her son, Thomas, came by every day. Thomas had a black Scottie named Chad who loved my female basset Clara. Chad was Thomas’ dog, but lived with Kay. He was a stubborn fellow who would not come when called. However, if Thomas called “Chad, Clara!” Chad would come running knowing he would get to see his friend. Kay was nearly blind and did not get out of her house much. One time, Kay let Chad out of the house to go potty and he didn’t come home. She stood in the doorway and called, but he remained outside. I could hear Kay calling and I could see where Chad was, so I put Clara on a leash and brought Chad home. Kay was back in the house by then and I sent Chad in through the door that had been propped open for him. A few minutes later I heard Kay’s voice calling out, “Thank you whoever brought Chad home!”

Kay was a porcelain painter in her youth. When she passed away, I got some teacups she painted.


Whenever I drink from them, I think of Kay. She signed the underside of the cup and saucer simply “K. Thomas”.\

Finally, I have a set that I got when another good friend passed away.


 This is an Arthur Wood and Sons teapot with matching cups. The pattern,  # 6432, is Purple Violets. This belonged to my friend Alemash, who was born and lived most of her life in Ethiopia. During a coup in the 70’s her husband was killed and she spent 7 years in prison. I don’t know that about her when I first met her at church. She had recently moved near me and I was asked to give her a drive to church. What started out as a courtesy bloomed into a friendship. Slowly she told me the story of her life. In spite of the hardships she endured, she was the most loving and centered person I have ever met. She would often invite me home for Ethiopian food after church and would send me home with a gigantic doggy bag. And after each meal we would have tea. She loved me like a daughter and sometimes called me her American daughter. She passed away in December 2010, but I still think of her often, especially when I use this tea set.

Testing SOLSC 25

25 Mar

This morning I took the Middle School English Language Arts test required to add a MS LA endorsement to my teaching license. I love my job teaching ESL through writing in 4th grade. But it’s had me thinking about where I ultimately want to be. And I’m thinking maybe that might be back in middle school. I’ve talked this over with my principal because I’m not planning on changing jobs no matter what.I will only apply for jobs I really feel I might want to do.And maybe I will stay where I am.

So, a few weeks ago I signed up to take the test on the first day of Spring Break. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a standardized test. Growing up in Canada, we didn’t do these, so the first one I did was to get my Oregon teaching license. The last test I took, about 6 years ago, was for my library/media endorsement. I did a Master’s program in addition to that paper and pencil test.


Apparently, as with the kids, paper and pencil tests are long gone for professional tests. I had to arrive 15 minutes before my test time at the testing center. Testing center? It was a room full of 20 or so computers with people taking standardized tests of all sorts. Before I could enter that room, though, I had to register. This involved providing photo ID, getting my picture taken and recording imprints of both my right and left palms. Bizarro! I had to lock everything except my ID in a locker than i went on to the computer rom. The fellow at the door reread my palm, checked I had nothing in my pockets or hood, or tucked in my socks. Sheesh. Once I was declared “clean” I was escorted into the room to my computer terminal, where I was able to begin the test. It all felt very Gattaca.

The test was about what I expected. Like the students who will do their state test next month, I received my score once finished. It’s nice not to have to wait to find out that I passed. I am doing the Middle School Social Sciences test next week. I’m a little more worried about that test. No matter how that test turns out, I will be adding MS LA to my teaching license, once I send in the paperwork and a check for $100.

Flycatching SOLSC 24

24 Mar

The beautiful weather of the last few days saw me leaving doors and windows open. This, of course, lets in flies.   Lucy is obsessed and sits on high alert until she catches sight of any intruders.


Once she catches sight  of a fly, she dashes off, running back and forth, in hot pursuit. Occasionally, I hear the SNAP of her jaws as she gets close enough to catch the fly. She rarely succeeds.

I dislike having flies in the house, but use a different technique to get rid of them, putting in almost as much effort as Lucy. Knowing that flies are attracted to light, I turn off all the lights in the house, save those in the kitchen. I unlock  the back door, which leads from the kitchen to the back yard,  and leave it open.  The fly will eventually enter the kitchen. Once it does, I turn off the kitchen light and, with luck, the fly will exit through the open kitchen door, which I close immediately.

Lucy and I about equally as successful. I could get a fly swatter, but success with that tool just makes me gag. Lucy gags, too, if she actually catches a fly. The chase is always better than the catch.

The Golden Age of Venice SOLSC 23

23 Mar

I spent yesterday afternoon and evening in Venice. Not the Venice of today, but La Serenissima, the Venie between the early 16th century and the fall of the Venetian Republic at the close of the 18th century.


The Portland Art Museum currently has an exhibit entitled Venice: The Golden Age of Art and Music. I actually went to entice thirty years ago so my memories are rather hazy. Yesterday made me want to go back.  As my friend and I wandered we learned a little about Venice’s history and it’s place in the world of music, art and politics. She had been to Venice more recently and was able to add personal stories to things we saw.   Along with the paintings, the exhibition includes prints, drawings, illuminated manuscripts and sculptures along with original period instruments and early music texts. This was my favorite musical instrument


an ancestor of the oboe, made of wood and covered in leather. It was about 3 or 4 feet long.

There is a digital tour if you would like to go too.

After the museum visot and dinner we attended a concert in the ballroom featuring Cappella Romana singing religious songs of the eriod composed by Baldassare Galuppi and Dmitri  Bortniansky, and The Portland Baroque Orchestra performing Vivaldi.   A beautiful day of art, followed by a sublime evening of music. It was truly a great way to begin Spring Break

2014 Hub Reading Challenge check-in #7

22 Mar

In spite of all this, I actually managed two HUB Challenge books. I have finally read Better Nate Than Ever  by Tim Federle. It was OK. I didn;t really love it, but I can see why many people did. It’s sequel, Five, Six, Seven, Nate, on my pile of Spring Break Books.

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I also read  Rust V.2: Secrets of the Cell by Royden Lepp.


This is a graphic novel that I enjoyed, but I really wish i’d read the first volume. Secrets of the Cell follows the story of a young-looking mechanical soldier powered by a fuel cell. The soldier runs away from his place of service and attempts to hide as a semi-normal boy living with a family and helping out. A young man discovers his secret and their previously cordial relationship devolves with the young man not trusting the mechanical soldier. The mechanical soldier later has a choice to make – save the young man or escape and maintain his freedom and ability to function.The artwork is excellent and helped me fill in bits I probably would have known had I read the first book.

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