Archive | March, 2018

Customer service matters

21 Mar

I set my alarm for 30 minutes earlier than usual so I could arrive at the Toyota dealership early enough to get a good spot in line. Although I was fifteen minutes early, I was third in line.


Once I was in the building, the check in process was quick. John, my service agent, was friendly and efficient.

“I see you are due for an oil change soon, ” he said. “Do you want us to take care of that today?”

“Can you?” I replied. “I already have an oil change appointment next week. Could you cancel that one for me?”

” Of, course!” he responded. “Is the 964 number still the best number to contact you?” he asked, checking my cell phone number. “I sometimes leave a voice message if the repair is large, but will send a text whether or not I leave a voicemail.” Then he got me set up for the shuttle that would take me to work. I was in and out in 20 minutes.

My shuttle driver was a retired teacher – they are everywhere. We had a lot to chat about but mostly talked about how the school district has changed and grown over the last decade.

As promised, I had a text from John a few hours later. Good news! A small leak and it would only cost $60!

The same driver picked me up. She was running late and called me to let me know.  I didn’t mind. It was a beautiful afternoon so I sat at the front of the school in the parent pick-up area. Several staff members joked about my mom running late as they left for home. I basked in the sun, taking off my coat and rolling up my pant legs for a little vitamin D.

Before long my driver arrived and she thanked me for my patience. I laughed. It wasn’t a struggle to sit and enjoy the Spring sunshine.

As she pulled up to the service entrance, she said, “I really enjoyed talking with you.” It had been another nice conversation.

Once again, John was quick and efficient. I joked about the age of my car. He smiled and said, “It is in great shape, though.”

I drove home happy at my experience and relieved that the check engine light was finally out.

Car talk

20 Mar

Thank goodness modern cars have warning lights. I no longer have to remember when to schedule my next oil change – my light will tell me. I felt really on top of things because as soon as the light appeared, I scheduled an oil change for the day and time I wanted. I paid $100 for “Lifetime Oil Change” service when I bought my car in 2006. The dealership  doesn’t offer that anymore.

Yesterday, when I started my car, though, a new light appeared.



Just last year it had come on and I needed a new catalytic converter. Ka-ching!

When I got to school, I scheduled an appointment for this morning. Drop off at 7. Shuttle to school. 7:45 appointment. I might even know the verdict before noon!

In the meantime, I searched online and saw this handy advice:

Possibly the silliest reason that your check engine light is on, a loose, damaged or missing gas cap may cause your check engine light to come on. The gas cap seals the fuel system, maintains pressure and will reduce emissions. A faulty gas cap will increase harmful emissions and can negatively impact efficiency if not replaced.

Before starting the car after school yesterday, I tightened the gas cap, hoping I could cancel the Tuesday morning appointment. Nothing changed, so I will follow through with Plan A.

I am hoping it is something small but fearing I will be shopping for a new car next week during Spring Break.




Ogden Nash in my kitchen

19 Mar

One of the poems my dad recited was “Reflections On Ice-Breaking” by Ogden Nash.

Is Dandy
But liquor
Is quicker.

It wasn’t until I was older that I really understood what sort of ice-breaking Mr. Nash meant.

He did however write a number of other reflections and other short poems on rather mundane objects. There are an inordinate number of poems about fruit and vegetables. Here’s one about parsley.

Further Reflections on Parsley

Is gharsley.

Looking in my fridge and around my kitchen, I wrote these poems inspired by Ogden Nash.

Some people find your soapy taste
Reminiscent of toxic waste
I enjoy your cleansing flavor
Sad so many feel disfavor.


Delicious sliced.


Carrot sticks:
Salad’s quick fix.


Mandarin Orange
A few slices


are obscene.

are good fellows.

have rotted.


Hail, kale
You taste stale.

Lean green
You taste clean.

Food fad
You taste bad.

Kale chips












Of course I said yes

18 Mar

When the email came asking me to present at the Spring mini conference for local school librarians, of course I said yes. I’d once been the person coordinating that conference and knew how hard it could be to find someone to present on a Saturday.

When I saw the schedule I balked.

Screen Shot 2018-03-17 at 3.24.21 PM

Who would want to see my presentation when they can see a Newbery honor author? I wondered. I was half hoping and half fearing everyone would want to see her.

Regardless, I spent the week getting my presentation together. I put a link to our Sibert phone calls into my Powerpoint and then wondered about embedding the video right in the presentation. I was surprised to see there was no “download this video” button on YouTube. A quick Google search informed me I didn’t need to download an app, there was an easy way to do so. I was glad because I wanted the clip, just in case I ran out of things to say. By Friday night, I felt ready for whatever Saturday was going to throw at me.

I could have just arrived in time for my presentation, but, presenters attend the mini conference for free. As a morning person, it just made sense to show up early. I drank coffee and reconnected with some former colleagues. I attend a Makey Makey workshop for the first session to keep my nerves at bay. In the break between sessions, I set up my computer and books in the lab.

And then Saturday threw all it had at me.

“Adrienne, our author is running late. Is it OK if we start the second session later than planned?” one of the conference organizers asked me.

Of course I said yes.

And when she came to me again to explain that a communications snafu  had sent Ingrid Law to the wrong school, I was asked to present to the whole group. Of course I said yes.

Like most teachers, I am totally comfortable in front of a room full of kids. Not so for adults. I moved everything into the library and presented to the large group. I was a little nervous starting out, but was okay by the end, I think. I was maybe a little sweaty. I managed to fill the hour, and it was a good thing because although the video ran fine, the speakers didn’t work. In case you’d like to see the video, here it is.


Prep work

17 Mar

I had Friday off as compensation for the two 12-hour days of conferences. I was exhausted and didn’t have much energy for anything dramatic. A rainy day, it was the perfect day for knitting.


I finished the socks I started earlier this month and could finally begin the sweater project I’ve been dying to do.

With any project, it is important to start the right way. I gathered my materials: one pattern, two sets of needles, and five skeins of yarn in four colors.


The first step is to turn each skein into a yarn cake. That requires setting up the swift and yarn winder. My rocking chair has the perfect arms for the job.

Within a short time, I had six cakes of yarn. I was turning the handle so fast as I wound the grey (colorway: Great Gray Owl)  that popped off the winder. That’s why it looks a little wonky.


And then the moment I’d been waiting for arrived – the moment when I got to cast on.



Things parents said at conferences

16 Mar

“She spends too much time doing homework”

“This has been his best year yet.”

“We have that problem at home, too.”

“No teacher has ever said that about his bad handwriting. Thank you.”

“She’s up until 11:30 doing homework.”

“In the Fall, you said she didn’t speak up. This is a big improvement.”

“Do you teach grammar?”

“Just wait ’til you get the next one!”

“She loves the independence of middle school.”

“How can I help?”

“Do the children have chores? We are trying to have them help more at home.”

“He talks all the time at home!”

“Think of a few ways you can participate in more. But be specific and make it concrete.”

“Humanities is his favorite.”

“I’m afraid to touch the pile of papers beside his desk.”

“Thank you.”














15 Mar


I worried no one would walk out.

I figure a lot of 8th graders, and many 7th graders, would. But 6th graders are on that funny cusp. It is one of the things I love about teaching 6th graders.

The Walkout was schedule for 10:00 a.m. My first class began at 9:50. To my relief, kids came in talking about it. I acted all stern, insisting they sit quietly and read, which is our custom, but inside I was doing a happy dance.

At 9:58, I caught the eye of a girl looking at the clock and gave her a “two-minute” signal.

I got weepy at 10:00 when the majority of my class got up and left.

And then I laughed when, at 10:01, the announcement buzz sounded, not in a call to arms, but in a call for band and choir students to go to their field trip. Two more left.

I was left with 5 kids in class and a heart full of hope for the future.

Good intentions

14 Mar

You know the old saying: The road to H- E – double-hockey sticks is paved with good intentions.

Well, I took that road yesterday.

Last week at our union meeting, we were given the opportunity to purchase orange shirts to wear today and at a rally on the 24th. I ordered and paid for one that evening. I took an order form so the next day at work, I could ask a few colleagues if they wanted one too. I got their particulars (and their money) and sent in the form.

Today we got this perky message:

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 6.10.02 PM

I sent an email saying I’d pick mine up that afternoon and was told my school had a bag.

Cool,  I thought, some of the other reps must have ordered shirts, too. So, at lunch, I sent out an email to the two other people who were at the meeting and found out a third person had also emailed them. Trying to be helpful, I sent another email offering to get the bag. Lunch ended and classes were underway and things were busy. The third teacher sent two students to my room with a cheque in an envelope. I didn’t really have a chance to check my email before leaving, and that was when I ended up on that road.

Of course, the third person hadn’t pre-ordered and we had to guess on the size. The only shirts in the bags were the ones I had ordered. I stopped at the library on my way home and checked the time on my phone on the way out to see if I had time to swing by the grocery store. There was a message from one of the other two people asking me go get a shirt for her. Oops.

Definitely double hockey sticks.



Congrats — You are a Giveaways Winner!

13 Mar

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 5.52.32 AM

This message appeared in my inbox yesterday morning. Yes, I was a Goodreads Giveaway winner of a copy of this book:


I am not much of a gambler. I don’t buy lottery tickets. When I drive past the highway sign advertising the Powerball  and MegaMillions,  I like to imagine what I’d do with the money if I ever won. Just for the record, last Friday, when I turned in my glitter-covered shamrock, I got a scratch-it lottery ticket. I scratched, but won nothing.

The only real gambling I do is on Goodreads. Sometimes, I like to go into my Goodreads account and click on the Giveaways. I only ever enter giveaways for books I can put in my classroom library. And I never win, until now.

Maybe that shamrock was lucky after all.




I finally opened the windows

12 Mar

I finally opened the windows
The Spring really seemed to be here.
I finally opened the windows –
The air was so fresh and so clear.
I aired out the kitchen and bathroom,
And I aired out my stuffy bedroom.
My whole house was freed from its wintery gloom
Since I finally opened the windows

I finally opened the windows
It was such a beautiful day.
I finally opened the windows
And banished the winter away.
I opened the curtains and raised up the blinds,
Shook out the cobwebs stuck fast in my mind
And saw all the wonders that Nature designed
Since I finally opened the windows.


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