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Time on my hands

31 Mar

Despite the my grey hair and the many missives I receive from the AARP, I am not yet a senior citizen. This is important because it means I need to be aware of shopping times, i.e. the shopping times reserved for seniors and other vulnerable people. I know that my nearest shop, the tiny Whole Foods three blocks away, has reserved 8 – 9 a.m. for these folks.

Yesterday morning, feeling antsy, I decided to go to Whole Foods. I played the “let’s pretend I’m not going out without you” game with Lucy, but she had it figured out by the time we hit the sidewalk. The trembles started. Hardening my heart, we took a little walk and then returned to the house where I left her.

I had packed my backpack before the walk, so I could drop Lucy off, grab the bag and be out the door before she could really panic. It contained two reusable shopping bags, yellow Playtex gloves, and my wallet. I intentionally left my phone behind so it wouldn’t get germed. I also just wanted to enjoy my walk without distractions.

I knew I was a little early, but hadn’t realized quite how early I was going to be. As I walked through the parking lot, I saw a gloveless senior citizen raking groceries from her cart and putting them in her front seat, just like I do. Another person exited. He didn’t look like a senior, but he was a little further away. Maybe it was already nine.

I approached the doors, where the security guard stood. This was a new addition to the store the last time I was there. That time they mostly cleaned shopping carts, but I suspect they managed the lines at busier times.

“Am I early?” I asked as I approached, but maintained an appropriate social distance.

“Yeah, you got about 20 more minutes,” she told me, smiling, clearly not thinking of me the way the AARP does.

“No problem. I’ll just take a walk,” I replied as I veered off the other direction into the neighborhood.

Although this neighbor hood is near min and I often walk the major streets, there are many streets I don’t think I have ever been down. I peeked at porches and gardens as I walked past, trying to figure how far I needed to go before turning around and taking a different winding way home. I crossed the street when I saw people coming towards me and got to look at some different houses and yards.

It had rained really hard overnight and there were a few puddles to navigate around. I walked around a park, rather than through it, to a point where I thought I could turn around. Not having a watch or my phone made the actual time a guess. I decided that, as I walked back to Whole Foods, I would try to see if I could see the time through someone’s window. It was harder than I thought it would be. I saw mixers and plants, coffee makers and dog treats, but I could not see a clock. Not on a wall, not on a stove.

As I was about to round the last corner, I passed a house where I could see a large screen TV through the window. CNN was on, and I knew they usually showed the time in one corner or another. I slowed my pace, allowing my eyes to roam from corner to corner, trying no to look too much like a stalker. And the, there it was, in the upper right hand corner 12:07 ET. That meant it was 9:07 in Portland.

I picked up my pace, greeted the the same security guard when I reached Whole Foods, then entered the store ready to get the things I needed.

 

 

Keeping Portland Weird

20 Mar

It was a sunny Thursday and, once more, Lucy was just standing on the sidewalk. There was a time that she ran, but nowadays, she simply likes to stand around, sniff, and watch the world.

This particular Thursday, we emerged from social distancing so she could have a potty break and I could get away from the sofa. The sun was warm and I didn’t mind just standing there with her. At this time of the year the sun feels wonderful, and given the circumstances, healing.

As Lucy and I soaked up the sun, I noticed a sound in the distance. Could that be bagpipes?  I asked myself. It couldn’t be Portland’s Unipiper, could it? I wondered as I turned my eyes in the direction of the music. Sure enough a yellow clad figure was at the end of my block. I knew Lucy couldn’t run fast enough for us to see him and I was content to enjoy from a distance.

But then he turned up my street.

Fortunately, a unicycle is not built for speed and I had enough time to dash into my house and grab my phone. On the way, I passed a neighbor.

“The Unipiper is coming!” I called happily.

“Is that a bad thing? You are running away!” he laughed to me as he descended to see the local celebrity.

“Just grabbing my camera,” I called back, just before dashing into the house. I was back in no time and managed to snap one good photo as The Unipiper pedaled past, playing Scotland the Brave.

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Quiet in the hood

18 Mar

I had an appointment for a haircut yesterday. I wondered if my hairdresser would cancel, but she didn’t. Her salon is about 4 blocks from my house, in the same block as a small Whole Foods, and in a stretch of NE 28th that is sometimes called Restaurant Row.

The weather was nice, so I decided to walk. Although people were out, it wasn’t as busy as it normally is. I decided to take some shots of the signs that have been put up since the governor declared that restaurants could only serve take out or delivery.

This sign was posted on the telephone pole in front of the Whole Foods.

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It’s hard to know what this shut down will mean to all these small businesses. My hairdresser talked about how she was torn between staying open and shutting down. Salons have been shut down in Washington and she might now have to struggle with that decision much longer.

People in my neighborhood – The Recyclers

2 Mar

I held the back door open and set one foot on the top step. As Lucy hopped down, I heard rustling behind me. Someone was going through our recycling bins.

As Lucy took a moment to sniff – the air, the dirt, the rose bushes – I looked to see who it was.

“Good morning,” the female voice called to me. “How are you?”

“Great,” I replied. “And glad it isn’t raining.”

She laughed as Lucy and I walked past her. She was familiar to us. I don’t know her name but she is one of a number of regulars who collect cans from recycling bins in the neighborhood. She, like several others, come around with shopping carts, laden with can filled bags. There is a fellow who used to come around with a cart, but has since purchased an old, brown Ford Econoline van. He is not as chatty as this recycler. He is not as quiet as the elderly gentleman who comes around on his bicycle, bags hanging from every possible place. He never says a word, but I can tell by the look in his eye that he is terrified of dogs – even Lucy.

As Lucy and I walk past the recycler and descend the back steps to the street, I see the cart.

“Sorry about the cart,” the recycler says.

“No problem,” I reply, “Lucy is small and can get around anything!”

We walked South down the street. As Lucy stood staring off into space – something she does more and more lately – I heard the wheels of the shopping cart head North.

 

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First Book of 2020

2 Jan

I’ve not been writing as many book blogs as I used to. With my term on the 2021 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction about to begin, I don’t know how many book posts I will manage this year. While I am still on vacation, though, I can tell you about the first book I finished in 2020.

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Publisher’s Summary: The true story of a
couple who lost everything and embarked on a transformative journey walking the South West Coast Path in England

I put the book on old, months ago and I’d forgotten what had appealed to me to make me place the hold in the first place.  Recalling so little, I assumed it was a work of fiction. I wasn’t very far in when I began to realize that I was wrong. This was a memoir of real events and I popped open Google maps to follow the journey.

In many ways, The Salt Path was a perfect first book of a new decade. It is a book that inspires the reader, showing the transformational possibility of perseverance through hardship. Despite the dire situation in which Raynor and Moth find themselves, the book includes a lot of humor along with self-reflection and commentary about how the treatment of homeless people. It also includes some beautiful descriptions of the landscape along the route.

A powerful start to my reading year.

Conference week booktalks 10/8-12

12 Oct

Because of conferences, I only had Kids three days this week.

Monday

Running on the Roof of the World  by Jess Butterworth

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Tuesday

Those Who Run in the Sky by Akiaq Johnston

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Wednesday

Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen

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Driving like a 6th grader

9 Oct

The move from elementary to middle school can be confusing. One of the things I love most about teaching 6th grade is showing the students how to navigate a new way of going to school. In the first week, many students are confused and have that “deer in the headlights” glazed look. Little by little, that look fades and is replaced by each students’ normal mien.

My new car has me feeling like a sixth grader in the first week of school.

The last car I bought was a 2005 Toyota Corolla. I now own a 2019 Subaru Crosstrek.  Boy, have cars changed since! It’s not just the high-tech things that have given me that “deer in the headlights” glazed look. I reach my hand out to adjust my mirrors and find open air. I had to pull over two minutes from home yesterday to read the manual and learn how to defog the windshield.

The Subaru  dealership has an interesting way to help out. When I took possession of the car, I got a quick lesson in how to sync my phone and work a few buttons. I was shown the slimmest of the four (!!!) manuals and encouraged to read it. And, I was told that, in about a week, after I’d had a chance to figure things out on my own, I’d get an appointment with a new car specialist who will help me figure out the aspects of my new car that I haven’t yet. He sent me an email yesterday telling me I should keep a journal to jot down any questions I have.

I think I made a good decision!

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