Archive | March, 2021

Planting ideas

21 Mar

The weather is changing for the better and it is high time I do something about the planters on my stoop.

There was a time
when I had a house
with a big yard and
a large vegetable garden,
but those days are long past.

Nowadays,
my garden lives
in manageable containers.
There are dahlia tubers
in round pots that
need to be examined
and possibly replaced.

In the rectangular planter,
the remnants of old chrysanthemums –
bought for parent teacher conferences
in October 2019 –
cling to life.
They were scraggly
last summer and
will be replaced this year.

I might plant basil, later,
when the weather is better
and there is no fear that
cold weather
will kill off the plants.
And a yellow pear tomato plant
is always a delight.

I know a lot of people with
extensive garden,
who page through seed catalogues
in winter,
planning in great detail.
I was, too,
once upon a time.

But I’ve become
a gardening pantser
planting whatever takes my fancy
when the time is right.

Grumbling

20 Mar

I grumbled through the day yesterday, indulging my inner curmudgeon. Early in the morning we’d received a text announcing a stand-up Zoom staff meeting regarding staffing for next year.

The thing is, our district has had a habit of announcing bad news late on Friday afternoons. And here we were, the Friday before Spring Break. What else could it be but bad news? So, I grumbled through the day.

The last ten minutes of the last class were excruciating. My mind whirled. Will they tell us how our staff will be decimated by the opening on the new middle school in Fall? I wondered. Will they name names? Ask for volunteers?

Time ticked slowly. I said good bye to my students, logged out or one Zoom meeting and into another. (I am so looking forward to a lot less screen time over Spring Break!) I kept both my mic and camera off – all the better to grumble through the meeting. Which, it turned out, wasn’t the meeting I’d expected.

Instead of bad news about cuts to our staffing because of the new school, we got bittersweet news. One of our two Vice Principals will be an elementary school principal next year. It’s exciting news for her, but sad for us.

I’d like to think I learned a lesson from yesterday’s meeting, but I know I didn’t. I will be grumbly when the next stand-up Zoom staff meeting is announced. I will hope that the news isn’t too bad. If I expect the worst, I am never disappointed.

Leak

19 Mar

Crack!

I remember the sound, but not what I was pouring into one of my preferred mugs. Tea, probably. Was the kitchen too cold? The tea too hot? Tea can never be too hot, in my estimation, but I digress.

I heard the crack, but saw no sign of damage. I carried the mug from sofa to chair, back and forth all day, filling and refilling it. It seemed to have suffered no damage.

I pulled the same mug out today. There was no crack as I put in first the milk, and then the coffee. I savored the first sip of my morning joe in that mug that feels so good in my hand. Maybe you have a mug like that. The weight and the design are perfect.

Richard got up as he does, while I enjoy my firs cup. I took him out. I fed him. I gave him his treat. But when I returned to my mug, now full of tepid coffee, something was wrong – a pool of coffee encircled the bottom.

Had I spilled? I wondered.

I wiped up the mess and returned to my computer, looking at today’s COVID stats, checking email. Then, there it was again. Not a pool, but a bead of coffee at the mug’s base. I grabbed a paper towel, folded it and set it under the cup. A small stain appeared on the white towel. I moved the mug. A new bead appeared. I wiped the bottom then lifted the mug high but saw no discernible mark. And yet, a new bead appeared. I downed more coffee so I could look inside.My heart sank as I saw the hairline crack that ran the length of the mug, brim to bottom. On closer inspection, I could see the crack on the front.

My heart sank. I picked this mug up at my first District School Librarian meeting. I loved being a school librarian and thought that would be the job I retired from. Alas, it was not to be. Certified school librarian positions were eliminated in 2012. For a couple of years, I hoped the jobs would return, but as the years passed, I realized they would not. This mug was a reminder of a job that I loved. Now, it too had run it’s course.

And so, after finishing my coffee, I said a fond farewell to one of my favorite mugs. It was a double mourning, in a way, the loss of the mug and the loss of a job I loved.

The job has changed

18 Mar

I got weepy in Advisory yesterday as we processed the murders in Atlanta yesterday.

It can be a little awkward talking about these things with 6th graders because some are very attuned to the news and some have no idea what happened.

At some point, I said something along the lines of “This isn’t what I signed up for when I became a teacher, but I seem to be having these conversations with students more and more,” and that made me sad because it’s true and because most of my students are of East or Southeast Asian ancestry. So I got weepy. Each and every one of these conversations connecting to the one before, and the one before, in an endless stream.

When I became a teacher in 1988, the hardest conversation I ever had was telling another teacher, who was wearing white pants, that she’d gotten her period.

My students are good, though, because yesterday, in our study of the three philosophies in Ancient China. I had connected them to The Tao of Pooh, and one of them made me laugh because commented that more people should be like Pooh. That led to comments about Taoism in general and how more people needed to be kinder.

I left them with a suggestion to go outside and enjoy the sunshine and to take a moment today to do a kindness to someone, or make someone smile for no reason except to restore some balance to the world. I know some of them will do that. I have faith and hope in them.

The DST Struggle is Real

17 Mar

I am a morning person. So why am I struggling so much with getting up in Daylight Savings Time?

I go to bed and fall asleep just fine, despite the time change. But getting up has been a struggle. And that is unusual for me. Since Monday, I’ve tried to hit the snooze button, but, because it is a button I never really use, I fail to give myself ten more minutes on the clock.

My first year in Colombia, the country experienced a drought. A number of policies were put into place to manage water resources. Since most of the electricity came from hydroelectric dams, electricity was rationed. For several months, we had only 12 hours of electricity a day. Each week we alternated between 6 am to 6 pm and 6 pm to 6 am. Additionally it was decided to implement Daylight Savings time for the first time ever. Colombia lies just above the equator, so daylight hours only vary about 30 minutes from one solstice to another.

Some people accepted the decision, some resisted, and some were confused. Many would ask “Old time or new time?” when you made an agreement about a time to meet. I think I finally understand this thinking. As I struggled to get up this morning, I thought My body thinks it’s 4:30 not 5:30. My body is living in old time, but my brain is living in new time.

Hit me with your best shot

16 Mar

The only real side effect I had from the second COVID shot, was tiredness. I believe this was the result of following advice given to me by several people: take Tylenol before the shot then every six hours afterwards for a day or two. It worked like a charm.

I passed this advice on to my teaching partner, whose second shot came over the weekend. Her side effects were also minimal. This preventative measure got me thinking about another time I had to take preventative medication.

It was December 1993 and I was living in Colombia. A wisdom tooth needed some attention. I’d seen my dentist and we’d scheduled the extraction for our Winter Break from school. He wrote me a prescription for penicillin injections to be delivered twice before the day of the appointment. This could be done at any pharmacy, so in a timely manner, I arrived at my neighborhood pharmacy on the first day my dentist recommended.

The pharmacist was a jovial pot-bellied man, middle-aged with thinning hair. He looked at the prescription then told me to come on into the back. A lot gets done in pharmacies abroad that would happen in a doctor’s office at home, but I followed him back, and began rolling up my sleeve. The pharmacist gave me a funny look then kindly explained that it had to be delivered intramuscularly and, for this shot, that meant the buttocks. I gave him a look of incredulity. He smiled. I turned and dropped my drawers. It was over in seconds.

The walk home started the movement of the penicillin through my body. It also got me thinking about the second shot. The sting of that thought was far greater than the pain of the needle itself.

Apollograms

15 Mar

The high school most of my middle students will attend has a tradition of inviting former teachers to send messages to students who will graduate. Because the school’s teams are called the Sunset Apollos, the messages are called Apollograms. I have only been at my middle school for six years, so my first group of 6th graders won’t graduate until 2022. However, the elementary school where I used to teach also feeds into the same high school.

Because kids haven’t been in school buildings for a year, and because we are scheduled to return to buildings in April, the decision was made to move the due date forward so graduating students can receive them upon their return to the building.

When our secretary sent out the list of former Stoller students who were graduating, I looked over the list and knew no one. I was a little disappointed, but then I realized that if we’d been sent a list, the elementary school I taught at probably also received a list. I reached out to the secretary and she did not disappoint.

I like to keep Sundays quiet. So yesterday morning, as rain fell outside, I snuggled on the sofa under a blanket and filled out my Apollograms.

As each name came, I pictured the student who I last knew as a 5th grader. Because I’d been the school librarian when they were kindergartners, I knew all but one student. I wondered what they looked like now. Would I recognize them if I had the chance to meet them? Each of their names brought a smile to may face as I thought back to my years at that school, and this group of kids.

Back to the drawing board

14 Mar

Someone at work is pregnant and, traditionally, I knit a sweater for the new baby.

Last week I pulled out a skein of yarn I thought would be appropriate and knit a sweater I’d knit many times before. I hated the result. There were a couple of reasons for it. The variegated yarn pooled in a way I did not find appealing. I knit a size larger than I usually knit, trying to gift a sweater a baby might wear next winter, but It seemed off. Maybe it was the pooling that made the proportions look wrong. I just don’t know.

What I do know is that there is no way I can gift this sweater. It is now in a donation bag awaiting a trip to the Sally Ann.

So this morning, I am back to the drawing board. I have a new skein of yarn caked up and a different pattern on deck. And I am feeling really good about this decision.

The Saturday morning walk

13 Mar

The Saturday morning walk is
different from a weekday walk.
Some of the other dog walkers are familiar,
but the runners are not.
The streets are quieter,
with fewer people
on their way to work.

Today, it’s sunny
and the sounds of birds fill the air.
As does the staccatoed hammering
of the northern flicker
atop the telephone pole
excavating
a nest hole.

Sunday mornings
are surprisingly busier
as golf carts shuttle parishioners
to the white church
around the corner
and those fortunate to find parking
walk to the service.

But this Saturday morning
things are still quiet
as we mosey along
stopping to smell the flowers –
daffodils and crocuses –
that seem brighter than yesterday
on this sunny morning.

Shot #2

12 Mar

Yesterday, I woke up a half hour before my alarm. It was the day of my second shot and, after the stress and long lines of the first shot, I had a well thought out plan I wanted to roll out.

My appointment was at 9:00 a.m. My plan was to be there by 8:00, in case the lines were long. The tricky bot of this was Richard. You see, he’s has fallen in to habit of getting up with me and eating his breakfast then going back to bed for three more hours. I’ve been worrying about how I am going to have to retrain him before we go back to the school building April 19th, so today was a great day to test his ability to get up earlier. Fortunately, he passed with flying colors.

There was frost on the car, which needed scraping, but I was on the road, by my targeted time and arrived at the parking lot of the Oregon Convention Center a bit before 8:00. There was lots of parking and no lines, so I was seated with the nurse and vaccinated by 8:15. I know it was 8:25 because my exit sticker said 8:45 – they make me wait 30 minutes because I am allergic to sulpha drugs. Mission accomplished before my actual appointment time!

When I got home, I dug out all my old vaccination records an added my new card to the pile. They include shots for yellow fever, cholers, typhoid fever, and polio. I don’t have a paper record of receiving a smallpox vaccination, but I have the scar to prove it.

Randy Ribay

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