Archive | March, 2019

Goodbye March

31 Mar

IMG_0019I don’t do much gardening anymore;
I only keep a box and
a few pots on my stoop.

But, like March,
the season of the flowering kale
has come to an end.



In its place comes April,
full of hope and new possibilities.



I have replaced the kale IMG_0020
with pansies for now.
Later, I’ll put my dahlia tubers in pots
and change up the pansies
for something that can take
the heat of summer.

And so, Spring Break ends,
this month of daily writing ends,
but the journey
around the sun

Allergy eyes

30 Mar

There is something in the air.

I know because I feel it in my eyes.

I feel it even before I wake up: the heavier than usual lids, the itch, the grit, the tears that run from neither joy nor sorrow. Allergy season has hit my eyes.

It takes some time to get them serviceable. This means drops and hydrocortisone cream. This means frequent looks in the mirror to gauge the degree of puffiness and redness. This means extra wrinkles as the swelling goes down. This means NOT rubbing them.

It takes some time for them to feel normal again. Well, normalish. In allergy season, normal is a distant memory and desire. By noon, I feel normalish and I wonder when I will wake up and feel normal. I wonder, too, which student will be the first to comment.

Today, I replace the SOL logo with something more representative of how I’m feeling today.



Furiously knitting

29 Mar

“Do you ever take commissions?” my librarian friend asked.

I cringed inwardly. It can be an awkward question to answer and I gave my standard reply,”Yes, but I have rules.”

Her raised eyebrows were a sort of encouragement to go on, so I explained, “I won’t accept payment and you have to live with my timeline. I could finish it in a week, a year or never. I love to knit but don’t like pressure to perform. I want to knit a project because I love it. What did you have in mind?”



My friend had been on last year’s Printz committee. What she wanted was a pussy hat with the word “Fury” on it, in celebration of Damsel by Elana K. Arnold.

“Let me think and look around,” I said.

I found a free pattern  –  Hamilton Pussyhat by  on Ravelry. – that captured the beauty of the cover.Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 3.39.27 PM

During the Rose City Yarn Crawl, I made it my mission to find some yarn that would capture the colors of the book and work with the pattern. I did.


I took the peace of Spring Break to adapt the pattern, replacing “Rise Up” with “Fury” and began knitting. I learned to knit a Latvian braid and, slowly, but surely, the hat took shape.

It is now finished and blocking. I’ll give it to my friend when I see her at our next book club meeting in two weeks, unless I see her at the library first. I hope it is a good fit.



Mammogram 2019

28 Mar

Every other Spring Break I make the drive. I didn’t go last year, so it was on for this year.

I arrived 15 minutes before my appointment, as proscribed, checked in and took my seat in the waiting room.

I’d brought my book – the new graphic novel version of The Giver. It allowed me to read, but also pay attention. For the first few minutes, no one else was called .here weren’t many people in the waiting area. It was mostly women, but there was one very large man with a very tiny woman, who I took to be his mother. As I read Jonas’ story, one woman was called in and five came out.

Finally, it was my turn.

“We’ll take a right, then a left,” the nurse told me, smiling. Everyone in mammography is cheery.

She pulled the curtain on a cubicle and handed me a gown.

“Oh, it’s warm,” I commented as I took it from her hands. She laughed and pointed to the warming cupboard where they were stored.

I smiled, entered the cubicle and put on the gown. Once changed, I sat on the bench in my cubicle. Curtain open or closed? I wondered. Closed felt weird so I opened it and waited. The door across from me opened and a blond woman, similar to me in age, height and weight stepped out with a smile on her face and called my name. I followed her in for Mammogram 2019.


Intruder alert

27 Mar

I don’t know when or how it arrived, but there was a big fly in my house last night.

It could have slipped in through the front or back door as I took Lucy out for one of several Spring Break walks. It could have slipped in while I was taking out the trash or recycling. Regardless, it was here, in the evening, buzzing around the house.

I was thankful that Lucy was asleep. If there is a fly, she is on high alert, zooming from room to room, trying to catch the darned thing. She was curled up next to me, snoring, as I knit and watched a season 11 of Doctor Who.

I mostly tried to ignore the rotund, black beast – but it was big and LOUD as it zoomed from room to room. Was it looking for an escape? I grabbed a roll of ads from the recycling bin and decided to help.

I have this theory that flies seek light and fresh air. Wielding my rolled up weapon, I went from room to room, strategically turning off lights in an effort to lead the intruder to the kitchen and the back door. It worked until it didn’t and the fly buzzed out into the dark parts of the house. then it came back. it settled once, twice, three times in various places in the kitchen. Neither my roll of ads nor the broom I swung to reach to the top of the cupboards, smooshed the beast. Good thing. I have a really strong gag reflex and don’t do well with fly guts. Hence, the crafty light  strategy.

I’d left the door open and, although I didn’t see the intruder escape into the cool night air, at some point, there seemed to be no buzzing in the house. Was it truly gone or just settled in for the night? Morning would tell. If the beast were still alive (and Google tells me that the housefly – musca domestica – has a life expectancy of 15-28 days) Lucy will surely be on fly patrol. but she’ll have to wake up first.

Lucy on fly patrol

Library people

26 Mar

Monday was officially my first day of Spring Break and I spent part of the day at one of my favorite places : the public library.  Truly a place for everyone, here is who I saw:

A mom pushing a toddler in a stroller and holding the hand of her older child, crossing the street, on their way to story time.

A dad with two daughters, dressed identically, though one was clearly older. Both girls pushed identical babies in identical strollers.

A woman at the circulation desk, getting help placing holds.

A man at the circulation desk, taking care of his fines.

A woman exiting a study room, leaving a man with headphones inside.

People of all ages, colors, socio-economic statuses using the computers.

Toddlers of all colors – and energy levels – in the children’s area.

The Street Roots vendor out front, chatting to a former Streets Root vendor.

And Harry, patiently waiting for his mom and sister.




Music to my ears

25 Mar

Sunday afternoon found me a little restless. The sun was shining and Lucy and I had already been on a long walk. I wanted to knit but I was not in the mood for an audiobook or whatever program was playing on Oregon public radio. I knew I didn’t want silence, even though, lately, I’ve found myself sitting in silence. No radio. No audiobook. No music.

When I returned from three years in Medellin, Colombia, my first major purchase, after a car, was a CD player. It was 1994 and I was ready to move into the next phase of my life and career and that meant new technology. I was so sure about this that, while in Colombia, I purchased CDs instead of cassette tapes to bring home. Over the next two decades, my CD collection grew.

So, Sunday, feeling restless, I poked through my CDs, thinking something classical might be just the thing. I put on the CD I’d chosen, but it didn’t satisfy my need. I dug a little deeper and came up with Clasicos de la Provincia by Carlos Vives, the very first CD I’d ever purchased.



Listening to me brought me back to 1994 and the previous three years in Colombia. The sun shining outside my Portland home, felt as warm as my memories of my Colombian years. I felt nostalgic and energized at the same time. I decided I would dig deeper into my CDs for more of those firsts.




After Carlos, I put on Amplified Heart by Everything But The Girl. This was a band I’d heard a lot on the one radio station in Medellin that played contemporary music in English. I hadn’t listened to this CD in years, and was pleasantly surprised at home well I remembered the lyrics.




Everything But The Girl led naturally to Diva by Annie Lennox. For some reason, I associate this album with the day I was supposed to leave Medellin for the last time. A pilot strike started that morning and I arrived at the airport only to discover that I wasn’t flying home that day. the night before, I had joked with a friend that I might end up on her doorstep. I burst into tears when I did. I’m pretty certain that we listened to this album that night. As with Amplified Heart, I remembered more of the lyrics than I had expected.



Finally, I put on Fumbling Towards Ecstasy by Sarah McLachlan, who I hadn’t heard at all in Colombia. Hers was a transitional CD, marking my return to North America from South America. I listened as I transitioned from afternoon to evening, feeling content.

Lucy’s Haiku Series

24 Mar

Lucy’s nails had grown long. Because her nails are black, I can’t see the quick.  I am afraid to cut them they way I confidently cut her predecessors’ nails. So, Saturday, we made a trip to the vet for a professional trim. Here is a haiku series I think she could have written.

Lucy's Paws


We are in the car
Should I feel worry or joy
I start to tremble.

Shake shake shake shake shake
Drool drool droll drool drool drool drool
Shake shake shake shake shake

The door of doom looms
We have come to the place where
They torture me

I don’t like other dogs
But I hate this place more so
I ignore the others

The mean girl bribes me
Back, to the torture chamber
She cuts off my toes

Finally back to Mom
I will stare out the front door
Until we can leave

The drive home is short
And I am soon home, sweet home
Time for a nap.

Lucy's Paw


Planning ahead

23 Mar

“Wow! You sure have a lot of energy this morning,” my teaching partner commented as I handed here the prototypes of the revision centers our students will visit when they return from Spring Break.

“I had three cups of coffee at the staff breakfast this morning, ” I confessed. “I also have an idea for a rubric they can use to evaluate their work at each station.”

My teaching partner puts up with a lot from me in the morning. I am naturally a morning person, but today I was over the top. Although I was grouchy and draggy last week (what is it about the week before the week before Spring Break?) this week, I became happier and more energetic as Spring Break neared.

“Do you want me to print them?” she asked.

“They aren’t quite ready. I want to make them pretty – maybe add a border or something,”  I replied.

We had brainstormed a list of “issues” we’d noticed in their writing overall and narrowed it down to six, because we both have six tables in class.

  • paragraphing dialogue
  • punctuating dialogue
  • writing numbers
  • commas VS periods (run-on sentences)
  • verb tenses
  • showing elapsed time

I showed her my idea about how to assemble folders. Sometimes, having been an elementary school teacher really makes you better equipped for organizing things like this in middle school.

Later that day, with the rubrics and each center’s direction printed, I got out my Sharpies and wrote each center’s name in bubble letters on the front of a folder. While the kids worked, I colored in the bubble letters. The coffee had worn off and I was ready for Spring Break to begin.



Disrupted reading

22 Mar

A sneeze.

A cough.


A metal water bottle knocked over on the table.

These are the sounds that sometimes interrupt our choice reading time. Usually, it’s the students. This week it was me.

No, I am fine. Thanks for asking. I have managed to mostly avoid the cough/cold/flu that’s been going around.

I laughed and I gasped as I read To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer.


Early in the week, I was laughing. The book is told in the voices of two girls whose dads have fallen in love. They live on opposite sides of the country and are sent to camp together to get to know each other. Hijinks ensue as relationships are formed and fall apart. My LOLing got me some looks that I usually through at students. Touché, young friends!

With yesterday’s sudden turn of events, the audible gasp I uttered resulted in most heads turning my way. I think I might actually have put my hand to my mouth in a gesture of worry.

I was loath to stop choice reading because I was only 20 pages from the end.  As the students worked silently on an in class essay reflecting on the Ray Bradbury’s short stories, I returned to the world of Night Owl and Dog Fish. I’d peeked ahead and thought I knew how the book would end. I was wrong – but this ending was so much better than the one I’d thought was coming.

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