Archive | March, 2018

Winding Down

31 Mar

During Spring Break I stayed up late.
Now, I have to go to bed at a reasonable time.

During Spring Break I got up later, without an alarm.
Now I have to get up in the dark, with the alarm.

During Spring Break a pot of tea, kept warm on the stove, followed my morning coffee.
Now, my morning coffee will be followed by a mug of cold tea, nursed all day.

During Spring Break I went with the flow.
Now I must work within a schedule.

During Spring Break I knit a lot.
Now I can only knit at night.

During Spring Break I wrote a slice every day.
Now, I will write a poem every other day for NaPoWriMo with my elective class.

During the month of March I wrote a slice everyday.
Now, for the next 11 months, I will Slice only on Tuesdays.

I hope I see you there too.



Ode to Dandelions

30 Mar

I saw these dandelions (Scientific nameTaraxacum) on a walk. As I said the Latin name, the rhythm of O Tannebaum popped into my head. A new song was born.


Taraxacum, Taraxacum,
How yellow are thy petals.
Taraxacum, Taraxacum,
How lovely are thy petals.
Your leaves are green and edible
Your roots grow deep – incredible!
Taraxacum, Taraxacum,
How yellow are thy petals.

Taraxacum, Taraxacum,
How yellow are thy petals.
Taraxacum, Taraxacum,
How yellow are thy petals.
You’re often called a noxious weed
Your seeds fly far – that’s guaranteed!
Taraxacum, Taraxacum,
How yellow are thy petals.

Taraxacum, Taraxacum,
How yellow are thy petals.
Taraxacum, Taraxacum,
How yellow are thy petals.
Kids turn you into crowns and chains
Then return home covered in stains!
Taraxacum, Taraxacum,
How yellow are thy petals.

Canine good citizenship

29 Mar

My hands were empty when I arrived home. Lucy was with me, but the poop bag I’d been holding was no longer with me.

Literal and figurative CRAP! I thought. I, who rail against people who don’t pick up after their dogs had left, had left my own pick-uppage behind.

There was nothing else to do. Poor Lucy looked confused as we went out once more, retracing the path we had just taken. Fortunately, the sun was out and there were sniffs to be sniffed and her perplexity was soon replaced by curiosity and interest at each blade of grass.

Before too long, a flash of pink appeared up ahead on the sidewalk.


Ironic that I dropped it near someone’s trash cans.

With my goal in sight I urged Lucy forward a little more quickly until I picked up the offending bag. At that point, Lucy and I slowed down, enjoying a more leisurely pace as we completed our walk around the neighborhood on this beautifully sunny Spring Break day.

Senior moments

28 Mar

At 53, I was the youngest of the three women who met for lunch yesterday. We meet a couple of times a year for lunch and it is always a fun time for catching up but yesterday’s get together could have been a stanza from Billy Collins’ poem “Forgetfulness”.

“Wait,” I interrupted at one point. “When did they get a divorce?” About 10 years ago apparently. Did I forget that, or did I never know? I have no idea.

The whole meal was punctuated with expressions of forgetfulness.

“It’s on the tip of my tongue.”

“I don’t remember the name…”

“Oh, what’s that word?”

“It just slipped my mind,”

“My mind just went blank. What was I saying?”

What will we have to talk about when we are all in our 80s and 90s? I have no idea.




Life with Lucy

27 Mar

Lucy's Nose

Lucy is a pretty low maintenance dog.

Although she doesn’t enjoy it, she will let me give her a bath.

She doesn’t enjoy nail trims either, but she will let me clip her toenails. All my other dogs tried to pull their paws out of my hand when I tried to trim their nails. Lucy keeps hers there and likes to eat the clippings. I let her. I figure it is the canine equivalent of biting her nails and it is her reward for cooperating.

The only thing she really hates is getting her ears cleaned.

As soon as I go to the cupboard where the ear cleaner is kept, she starts paying attention. When she sees the container, she tries to hide, so I generally try to act nonchalant, hiding the bottle behind my back. I will do a few other things before sidling up to her, ear cleaner, cotton rounds and hands still behind my back.

As soon as she realizes that I tricked her again, doggone it, she tries to bolt. But, I am a stealthy ear cleaner. I have her literally cornered on the sofa. There is no escape. She bears the indignity on the first ear and I can see the little wheels turning in her brain as I switch to the second. I block her so she can’t escape before she gets the other ear done.

When the ordeal is over she runs away, shaking her head and rubbing her ears on the floor and sofa. At this point I usually offer her a treat, followed by a walk. By the time we get home, I have been forgiven.

Spring Break

26 Mar

Spring Break is
staying up late Sunday night
and waking up
Monday morning
after the dog
whose needs must be met.

Spring Break is
a cup of coffee followed by
a pot of tea
left of the burner
to stay warm all day.

Spring Break is
watching the neighbors
climb into cars,
walk to the bus stop,
going to work
while you stay home.

Spring Break is
joy at the graded papers
left at school
so I can read and knit
and walk the dog
to my own drummer.


March For Our Lives

25 Mar


I ordered a shirt one size larger than normal, planning to wear it over my coat, praying that the rain would hold off.

It did, though it was cold and damp. I was glad for my hat and gloves as I waited for the bus that would take me downtown.

I was joined by a teenage boy, then by a senior citizen who was carrying a book entitled On Tyranny. I couldn’t help myself. I asked, “Are you going to the March?” The boy nodded and the senior citizen showed me the quote he had found in the book and typed onto the pages he had rolled up in his hands.

As thrilled as I was to have three generations at the bus stop, the bus had even more march goers. The air was positively humming with excitement and the bus kept filling. The driver asked people to “Move on back” more than once.  We were crossing over the Burnside Bridge when he announced that, because of the March, our bus route would be detoured for a few hours.

“Check to see if things are still detoured before going home,” he encouraged us, and added, “Stay safe and have fun!” The bus erupted into applause.

I met up with my colleagues and we milled about waiting for things to begin. A band, The Unpresidented Brass Band, played as we wandered reading the clever signs people held.


Before too long, the student leaders of the Portland March For our Lives got up on top of a truck to get things moving. We started and stopped a few times before we our momentum was sustained. I cheered on the woman who had volunteered to stand beside the single anti-everything protester, keeping him safe by guiding marchers around him, as he stood on the corner spewing all kinds of hatred.

People on the sidewalk cheered as we walked past. Some jumped off the sidewalk and joined the march. Despite the excitement and my joy at seeing so many people out, I had to hold back the tears. As much as I loved the clever, witty signs around me, my favorite signs were the ones made by young children. I loved them, but they broke my heart. Children shouldn’t have to carry signs like these.

We arrived at Pioneer Square, where the rally was to take place, quicker than I expected. But the rally didn’t begin. people were still coming, And coming and coming. The line stretched endlessly in both directions.

As we waited for the march to end and the program to begin, we encountered people we knew and pointing out more clever signage to each other. Near the end, I saw another sign that just about undid me.


Corn v. Flour

24 Mar

corn-tortilla-stack-g18-56a8c1e15f9b58b7d0f4da37  VS   download-1

The first tortilla I ever ate was in Antigua, Guatemala and it was a corn tortilla. I stayed in Guatemala for a month, learning Spanish and ate tortillas almost every day. Each and every one was a corn tortilla.

That first impression has shaped my world view. I always chose corn tortillas over flour, if given the choice. Alas, the choice isn’t always given. If you are a fan of flour tortillas, let me tell you some reason why you should switch to corn.

First, corn tortillas came first. Mesoamericans ate corn tortillas over a thousand years ago. Flour tortillas are an innovation the Spanish devised because they thought corn wasn’t a fit product for humans. Although flour tortillas roll better for burritos, corn tortillas are more authentic.

According to, the online version of Prevention Magazine, corn tortillas are better for you. Made only with corn and water, they have fewer calories,  more fiber, and less salt than flour tortillas. It might surprise you to know that, despite corn’s sweetness, flour tortillas have more sugar.

Spring Break started for me yesterday and one of my gals is to make my own corn tortillas. If it goes well, I might have another slice of tortillas.



Voices in the Air

23 Mar

downloadI picked up an advanced readers copy of Naomi Shihab Nye’s Voices in the Air when I was at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Denver. I’ve been reading it at school, during independent reading time. Lovely poems reflecting on a variety of  artists, writers, poets, historical figures, and ordinary people.

I heard her speak a number of years ago at a conference. She was wonderfully dynamic and gave us advice I have tried to follow: write three lines everyday.

Imagine my delight when, Sunday night, I was listening to On Being on the radio and Naomi Shihab Nye was the guest. She read and talked about her poetry and her view of the world. Here are some of the bits I gleaned from the program.

  1. You are living in a poem.
  2. Very rarely do you hear anyone say they write things down and feel worse.
  3. Talking about poetry is also talking about how we move through the world.
  4. You have to write things down as they come to you.
  5. When you write things down, you find out what you notice.
  6. You listen to yourself when you go back and look at what you wrote.
  7. Consider reading your children awake when they get older.

If you read nothing else today, read Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “Kindness”.


The funny thing about 8th grade

22 Mar

I am teaching 8th grade this week. Sixth graders at my school have gone to Outdoor School and, for several reasons, I opted not to go and swapped places with an 8th grade Humanities teacher who was eager to go. I haven’t taught grade eight since the 1988-89 school year – my first year of teaching.

I was mostly surprised by how quietly they work. I think it is partly due to their maturity, but mostly, I think it is because they are allowed to work and listen to music. Most students have headphones in and follow the classroom rule of phones face down, one earbud in, one out. I know some of them are on sites other than those they are supposed to be, but they all switch back and work again once I swing past to observe and answer questions. They are all getting done what needs to be done, even of they take occasional detours.

They were working so quietly and so focused yesterday that I sat at my desk a little more, scoring some papers. Suddenly the silence of the room was broken by “Macho Man” by The Village People. The room erupted in laughter. I made a joke about an 80’s flashback. The red-faced student apologized. And then everyone went right back to work.


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