Archive | June, 2016

An Ideal Travel Day

29 Jun

I had a great travel day yesterday. I got to the airport in a timely manner and took the traditional PDX shot.

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While waiting for my 8 a.m flight, the crew at the Gate kiosk announced we needed to fill out an information card.

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I don’t remember ever having had to do so before, but, being the natural rule follower that I am, I complied.

We began boarding around 7:45. Once my row was called to board,  quickly found my window seat and sat waiting to see what sort of person would occupy the seat beside me. As the line dwindled, I began to wonder if it could be possible that no one would sit there. A few stragglers came down the aisle, but it was true. I had my row to myself!!!

Our original flying time was about four and a half hours, but, given the  prevailing winds, they now estimated four hours and fifteen minutes. Although we began boarding late, we would make up the time and, intact, arrive a little earlier than scheduled. Could this day get any better? It did because, as we left Portland, I had a lovely view of Mount St. Helens, Mt Adams and Mt. Saint Helens, though I couldn’t get all three in the photo I snapped.

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I had remembered to pack head phones but the seatback entertainment system required headphones with a USB connection and mine have the traditional peg like connection. No problem, I had a good book to read.

Partway through the book, I set it aside on my empty seat, to eat the sandwich I had packed. It was great to have a storage seat beside me. I picked the book up again and read for a while longer. I set it aside about 2/3 of the way through the flight and the book. The plane was very quiet at this point. We were flying at a high altitude and the screen on from to indicated that to was -44º C outside. The silence inspired me to write a sonnet.

Sitting alone in the airplane seat

As though curled up with a good book

At home in my reading nook

A travel situation that can’t be beat.

My eyes stray from the pages

Of my book and out the window

To the clouds above the ground below

Shaped by the work of ages.

It is quiet. Many passengers sleep

And those awake have minds occupied

With books or movies. We are well supplied

As across a continent we leap.

Before too long our descent begins

And I grow restless in great anticipation

Of landing at my final destination

And the reunion of the Gillespie twins.

 

 

 

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No Regrets

28 Jun

The portable toilets were the first to arrive and the last to leave.

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Of course, they were nice toilets, not the blue plastic ones that give everyone the creeps. These untippable beauties were parked on the corner by my house, awaiting the film crew.

We’d been contacted about a week ago asking if a film crew could use our courtyard to film a Toyota commercial. In the time it took the unit owners of our small condominium to make a decision, they’d chosen another building nearby. This is a neighborhood full of small complexes built in the 1940’s after all.

Although I’d ultimately said yes to the project, I was relieved we weren’t the chosen ones.  As we discussed the prospect, I surprised myself by asking questions about liability and contracts. Where did I get the wisdom to ask these sorts of questions?  The amount we’d have been paid wasn’t huge and we would have had to use back doors all day, since the front doors lead right into the area to be filmed.

And so the fancy toilets arrived Friday night. The film crew started arriving around 8 Saturday morning. People and trailers slowly filled the street that intersected mine. Lucy and I took several walks to see what was happening, though we never walked past the courtyard where the filming was being done – just too many people there.

My takeaway is this. There is a lot of standing around and waiting in the film industry. As a teacher, I know wait time is important, but it seems that is all these people did. I sometimes wonder what it is other people do at work all day. I look thorough bank and office windows and wonder, are they really busy, as they type on their computer or shuffle papers. And I think even my worst day at school is more exciting than this. I haven’t ever seriously regretted going into teaching  and the older I get, the more I feel it keeps my brain sharp and my heart young.

The toilets were finally taken away Monday morning and my whole summer vacation stretched before me. Definitely no regrets.

Unknown

 

A Highly Logical Book Choice

27 Jun

I was a quirky teen and found my peer group in Reach for The Top and friends who were not outcasts, but not top of the social heap that is high school. As I was reading John Corey Whalen’s Highly Illogical Behavior,  I felt I had found my peeps.

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This slim novel, a mere 256 pages, is a quick read narrated by two characters: 16-year-old agoraphobic Solomon and 17-year-old Lisa,  who wants to befriend Solomon, cure his agoraphobia and use this as the basis for scholarship application to a psychology program.

Publisher’s Summary:Teen and adult fans of All The Bright PlacesMe and Earl and the Dying Girl, and Everything, Everything will adore this quirky story of coming-of-age, coming out, friendship, love…and agoraphobia.

Summer Driving

24 Jun

I have a summer driving plan and it doesn’t involve a destination. I want to listen to the entire Harry Potter series on audiobooks in  the car. The project will take me longer than the summer, I am sure. But, next year marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first book, published as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Britain, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone un the US.

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I’m about halfway through this book and I am pleasantly surprised at how faithful the movies were to the original. I had thought that the movie intro, where Dumbledore shows up with what we later find out is a deluminator and McGonagall appears as a cat,  were innovation by the production company. Listening to the book, I know realize that these were, indeed part of the original book that I’d forgotten.

I am at the part where Harry has just played in his first Quidditch match. I can’t help but have the movie version of things paying in my head now, as I listen, and I suspect young people nowadays have probably seen the movies before they read the books. I haven’t read the books since 2007, when The Deathly Hallows came out and I reread the books to refresh my memory. I am surprised at how much I still like this first book.

This afternoon, Lucy and I are taking a little road trip to Woodburn to scout out the new park we will be using for the Oregon Basset Hound Games in a few weeks. Harry, Ron and  Hermione will be traveling with us.

Crazy first week of vacation

23 Jun

Teachers had one more day of work on Monday to enter grades, pack up and check out. I took two (very short) naps on Tuesday. That’s usually my m.o. for the first few days of vacation, but this is a funny week. We had interviews yesterday for a new Math teacher on our team. It was good to be sitting on the other side of the table for a change. Today, I have part 2 of some Reading work we did earlier in May. So, really I’ve only had one vacation day this week.

And yet, I have managed to get in some good summer reading. I finished Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu, a story of a girl caught between two countries.

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Publisher’s Summary: A beautiful and haunting debut novel in verse about an American-Japanese girl struggling with the loneliness of being caught between two worlds when the tragedy of 9/11 strikes an ocean away.

Eleven-year-old Ema has always been of two worlds—her father’s Japanese heritage and her mother’s life in America. She’s spent summers in California for as long as she can remember, but this year she and her mother are staying with her grandparents in Japan as they await the arrival of Ema’s baby sibling. Her mother’s pregnancy has been tricky, putting everyone on edge, but Ema’s heart is singing—finally, there will be someone else who will understand what it’s like to belong and not belong at the same time.

But Ema’s good spirits are muffled by her grandmother who is cold, tight-fisted, and quick to reprimand her for the slightest infraction. Then, when their stay is extended and Ema must go to a new school, her worries of not belonging grow. And when the tragedy of 9/11 strikes, Ema, her parents, and the world watch as the twin towers fall…

As Ema watches her mother grieve for her country across the ocean—threatening the safety of her pregnancy—and her beloved grandfather falls ill, she feels more helpless and hopeless than ever. And yet, surrounded by tragedy, Ema sees for the first time the tender side of her grandmother, and the reason for the penny-pinching and sternness make sense—her grandmother has been preparing so they could all survive the worst.

Dipping and soaring, Somewhere Among is the story of one girl’s search for identity, inner peace, and how she discovers that hope can indeed rise from the ashes of disaster.

This is a lovely novel in verse that bicultural kids would understand on a personal level, and kids who aren’t bicultural will find eye-opening. Although the format makes this a quick read, it is not an easy read. Some one sentence chapters pack a huge emotional punch.

This was a wonderful way to start my vacation.

ER

21 Jun

The gagging caught my interest.

Lucy began gagging shortly after our walk on Sunday and I wondered if she had something stuck in her throat. It stopped and started and stopped and started. And then she started licking air.  That got me up, looking to see if I could see something in her throat. Of course, I couldn’t.

And then she started pacing. Lucy is a 10-year-old basset hound. Walks are always followed by naps. But she seemed to have trouble getting comfortable and that worried me greatly because bassets are one of the breeds prone to bloat, a potentially life threatening condition when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, making it expand and putting pressure on other organs. In severe cases, the stomach can rotate. I gave her a Gas-X and took her to the emergency vet, hoping I was wrong. As we drove to the emergency room, she drooled profusely.

Portland has a fantastic 24-hr emergency vet hospital called DoveLewis.

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The parking lot seemed rather full when we pulled in. I guessed our regular vet  wasn’t the only one closed on Sundays. When Lucy and I walked in, The waiting room wasn’t packed, but still,  I figured we were in for a couple of hours of veterinary care.

We didn’t have to wait long after checking in. Our vet was Dr. Casey who took us into an exam room. She was impressed when I told her about the Gas-X. I explained about my work with basset rescue and how I follow several blogs and boards related to basset hounds.As she lifted Lucy’s tail, some gas was released, and we had a little laugh. We talked over bloat and having a foreign object lodged in her throat and we decided on a course of action.  She took Lucy back for x-rays and I got to wait.

I had planned ahead and packed a book, but was too anxious to read. As I leafed through magazines I noticed the other people waiting for word on their pets

  • a family consisting of a mom,dad with a young son and daughter
  • a middle-aged couple
  • a single man

While I waited the security guard walked in from the parking lot, helping a frail, elderly woman. He carried her cat carrier and helped her get checked in. She made us all chuckle when asked if she needed help filling out the paperwork.  She said, “I’m slow, but I can do it”. Later, he came back in to check on her because she had left her car window down. He offered to take her keys and roll up her window. Everyone who worked there was so nice!

I listened as the receptionist answered calls. She had two calls about poison and one about negative reactions to vaccines. The most serious conversation seemed to be with someone asking about euthanasia for a dog that had bitten a child. She explained that they did not do behavioral euthanasia, and gave resources that might be helpful. More than once she made sure that the dog had been removed from the home where the child lived.

Finally, I was called back to look at the x-rays. No foreign object showed up in Lucy’s throat, but her stomach was clearly  filled with gas. Although sedating her and inserting a tube down her throat was an option, Dr. Casey didn’t recommend it. Instead, she recommended pain medication, anti-nausea medication and some subcutaneous fluids. I love how the word subcutaneous rolls off my tongue.

I returned to the lobby to wait some more. As I waited, another couple came in with a Yorkie and a woman brought in a pit bull who was going to be a blood donor. She wasn’t giving blood that day, she was an excitable dog, so the owner was training her to be relaxed in the clinic. The family checked out and I learned they were there for their guinea pig. The single man came and went and it looked serious. He was waiting for other family members to come. A woman came in with an old black pomeranian who seemed to have hurt his mouth.

And then I was called for a discharge consultation. Lucy was coming home with no meds, but directions for a bland diet and Gas-X every six hours for two to three days. She had a good sleep once we were home and seems to be healing well. She is almost her perky self again. I worry a little every time I see her tongue come out, fearing that she about to relapse, but, I know I will relax a little more each day.

DoveLewis isn’t a place you ever want to have to visit, but if you do, you and your pet will receive excellent care.

 

 

Summer reading

20 Jun

The summer solstice falls  at 3:34 today in Portland, OR.

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I hope to be home before then. I have to go into work today to finalize grades and check out. The Math teacher on my team is moving to the high school so we are taking her out for lunch.

When I get home, summer holidays will stretch out before me. It is a glorious thing. Summer reading will also stretch out before me. Here is my current TBR pile.

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Gene Luen Yang, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, has a reading platform that is ideal for summer reading.  The Reading Without Walls Challenge encourages kids to read without walls in one of three ways:

1. Read a book about a character who doesn’t look like you or live like you.

2. Read a book about a topic you don’t know much about.

3. Read a book in a format that you don’t normally read for fun. This might be a chapter book, a graphic novel, a book in verse, a picture book, or a hybrid book.

When you finish, take a photo of you and the book (or just the book if you’re shy) and post it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadingWithoutWalls. You’ll inspire others to do the same!

Have a great summer of reading.

Jone Rush MacCulloch

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