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Post-apoc-eclips-ish

22 Aug

I had intended to write a post about how I sat, eclipse glasses on, knitting  my 2018 Back-to-School socks with my eclipse yarn, during yesterday’s eclipse.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

I started planning weeks ago. I bought my eclipse glasses on the way home from Bend in the first week of August. I tested them Sunday, just to understand what I would see.

I preordered my “Total Eclipse of the Sun” yarn, picked it up on Saturday and cast on my 2018 Back-to-School socks Monday night. I wanted to be ready.

 

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Yesterday, I made sure Lucy took a potty break just before 9 a.m.  Her tummy has been a little off and I didn’t want  any accidents (cosmic or biological proportions) while the eclipse was going on.

A little after 9, I heard on the radio that the event was beginning. I donned my glasses, opened my front door  and took a look. A  nibble appeared on the sun’s upper right edge. I felt more excited than I thought I’d be. No one else was out and we still had at least an hour before we made it to the 99.2% eclipse we were expecting in Portland. I had joked earlier in the day that we were in the Path of Totalitish.  I puttered happily in the house, then decided to pop my head out again. And that is when my glasses slipped.

It was a mere, momentary flash in my right eye, but that was enough. I quickly entered the house and tested my vision. I was OK, but when my eyes were closed, I could see the residual image of the eclipsing sun. I had heard on the radio that such an accident probably wouldn’t cause blindness, but I was spooked. I stayed in the house for a while testing my eye, relieved that, within about 20 minutes, the residual image had disappeared. But I was done with my ill-fitting glasses.

I heard my neighbors setting up in the courtyard popped my hatted head out the door again, facing away from the sun. They had eclipse glasses and pinholed paper plates.

I had found these directions on-line earlier in the day and sent them to my brother-in-law who had no glasses. He had made one, tested it and said it worked, so I knew I could be safe and experience the eclipse.

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I had a box I’d been planing to use to for the classroom books I’d collected over the summer.  I grabbed it and got to work.

I almost gave up when I realized I had used up the last of my tape that morning on a package I planned to mail today. Of course, I could find no glue. Fortunately, I have a “can do” attitude and found some stickers I could use as tape.

I made sure the foil was well secured.

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Then I attached the paper that would capture the image,

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Voilà! I felt safe to join my neighbors.

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Feeling more confident, I had a great time in the courtyard with my neighbors, who were also a little skittish about blinding themselves.  They mostly used their pinhole devices, but, from time to time they put on their glasses and quickly turned to look at the eclipsing sun, then back again. We laughed at how much more excited we were than we’d expected to be.

We noted the darkening world, the dropping temperatures, the strange color of the light as the moon moved across the sun. When we got to the point that was as close to 99.2% as we were getting,  the light seemed almost orange and we noticed strange patterns that I later learned were called shadow bands. It was fun to go into the street and, back to the sun, and doff my box to see all the people who were home and excited by the eclipse.

“The sun is still frowning,” my neighbor James commented.

“It was a smile inside my box,” I joked, realizing the pin-hole camera had given me a reversed image. My near disaster had turned into a community event. Everyone was amazed.

When the process started reversing itself,  I donned my box once more and saw that the smile was getting bigger. People started slipping back in to their homes and, before too long, the sun was fully back in the sky. I brought my box back into my house, and set it back near the stack of books I will take in to school later this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kickstarting

15 Aug

Along with about 60 colleagues and I gathered yesterday to spend the day with TCRWP’s  Mary Ehrenworth. We’ve been fortunate in my school district over the last few years to have Mary come a few times. We have also been fortunate enough to have TCRWP trainers come to our schools for days at a time. I have loved every minute of it. And yet, when the email came a few days ago saying shed be talking about grammar, I can’t lie – my heart sank.

I should have known better.

Here are a few of the many things I learned.

  1. Kids master grammar. Then comes slippage. With exposure to the various ways people write on social media, students unlearn spelling and grammar rules. Mary said that 3rd graders have better skills in some areas than 8th graders, who have greater exposure to social media. We need to teach them to code switch and expose them to a high volume of accurate language.
  2. We can teach grammar in meaning full ways
    • Demonstration – a ten minute mini-lesson, once they have a draft they are invested in
    • Inquiry centers – 20-25 minutes once during a unit, once they have a draft they are invested in, so they can apply the skill to their draft RIGHT NOW!
  3. Extravaganza & Interludes – a way to study tricky grammar in which kids make tools for other units

We spent some time working together to create some Inquiry centers. My teaching partner and I made centers that focused on narrative paragraphs and writing dialogue. We thought the dialogue center would be helpful for that small group of student who wrote ONLY DIALOGUE in their narrative.

After this work, we broke for lunch. Mary packs a lot into a morning.

In the afternoon we looked at teaching verb tense by looking at the movement of time. Mary taught some mini-lessons and we learned ways to have kids create timelines  for fiction and non-fiction, through read-alouds and shared reading.

Needless to say, even though I am sad that summer vacation is almost over,  I am now excited to get back to school and apply what I learned.

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The Road to Bend

8 Aug

Way back in the Spring, a friend and I signed up for a union sponsored, all-expenses paid, leadership conference to be held in Bend, Oregon. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

A few weeks before the conference she called me, thinking she didn’t really want to go anymore. I didn’t want to be assigned a random roommate, so we looked into cancelling. Apparently, others have felt this way in the past and cancelling would cost us each $150. So, we made plans for the trip.

The day before we made plans on where to meet. Thinking I was being helpful, I suggested the Starbucks 3 blocks from my house. My friend has a history of being late and I figured I could enjoy my coffee while I waited. I could also leave my car at home and buy her a coffee, since she would be the driver. While talking on the phone, I looked up the address and read it off to her.

The next morning, I was at Starbucks about 5 minutes early, as is my wont. The deal was that, if she wasn’t there by 7:15, I would call her. I placed my order and picked up my Venti soy latte when it was ready. Little did I know that my first sip of the mocha, would foreshadow other little mistakes.

By 7:10, I was getting anxious… and then my phone rang.

“Where are you?” my friend asked.

Well, it turned out I had not really been paying attention the night before because I;d given her the WRONG address. She was at a Starbucks on Burnside Street, but several miles away. Why hadn’t I noticed that last night? I gave directions to my location and she arrived within a few minutes.

Once she had her coffee, we sat to plan the route. East over Mount Hood, then South? Or South down I-5, then east? We opted for the Mount Hood route and tried to plug in the hotel address to her phone. It wasn’t taking it, so we just typed in Bend, and loaded the car.

After three hours of conversation, the phone began giving us directions. We followed them until she said, “Arrived at Bend”.

We burst out laughing, remembering we hadn’t put in the hotel address. My friend did so and we were off and driving again. Except it still didn’t seem right. Maps had the hotel in the north end of Bend and the phone was sending us South. We knew we were int rouble and started laughing. I was  laughing so hard at one point, I couldn’t speak. My friend pulled over because she was laughing and had to go to the bathroom badly. An accident was imminent. We pulled ourselves together and carried on, after finding a bathroom.

The phone sent us off the highway and through a round about then told us to turn left, but the barrier in the road made us turn right. We pulled off and put in the hotel’s name, instead of the address and, miracle of miracles, we had new directions. we arrived within a few minutes. We registered and made it to the opening lunch, which had just begun, and sat down, hopeful that our misadventures were over.

Just for fun, her are some pictures from the trails near our hotel and conference center.

The Parking Lot

1 Aug

I’ve started thinking about my next car. I am hoping it will be my last car because, when it dies, I will be retired and hope to rely on public transport.

I’m thinking t will be a small car, a Mini Cooper or Fiat. Maybe a Honda Fit. I want my next car to fit into small parking spaces. And what I witnessed yesterday reaffirmed my commitment to a smaller car.

I had just exited Trader Joe’s and was walking through the parking lot to my car. I had parked at the far end of the parking lot, in the shade of a tree. (In case you hadn’t heard, we are having a heat wave).

It was already hot and I was thinking happy thoughts about blasting the AC. As I crossed the road in front of the store, a big, white SUV pulled into the same row my car was parked in. I turned down the row and stopped. The SUV driver was having a little trouble turning into a spot. The driver pulled forward, then backed up and cranked the steering wheel. The driver pulled forward some more and still didn’t fit, so s/he backed up again And then turned the tires the wrong way.

I was feeling impatient – it was a hot morning after all – but suddenly I had a feeling I was in for a show. Again the driver pulled forward and did not fit. Sheesh! They backed out again. Again they turned the tires the wrong way. They pulled forward some more and I think that was when the driver realized it was never going to work.

This must have been the moment they realized that, only one car away, were two empty spots side by side. An easy park! They backed up once more, but it was once too often.

I saw the collision coming before it happened. I think I might even have called out, but I don’t think the driver heard me over the crunch. They pulled forward and it only took two tries to fit in the new spot.

By then, I’d walked to my car. I passed the victim vehicle, a van that was hardly marked. I didn’t see the SUV driver get out. Didn’t see if they left a note on the van or not. Surely they felt the collision and would do the right thing.

As I drove out of the lot I passed the shiny new SUV that did the damage. There was a football sized dent on driver side bumper.

slice-of-life_individual

Veni, Vidi, Vomit

25 Jul

Nothing makes me move faster than that URP URP URP sound of a dog about to vomit.

Louie used to find and eat all sorts of nasty things. He vomited often and help speed up my reaction time.

Fiona was less opportunistic.

Lucy, like my first basset Clara, rarely vomits. And yet, it happened yesterday.

There we were, curled up on the sofa on a hot summer afternoon, enjoying the cool of the air-conditioned house. I was engrossed in the book I was reading. Lucy was curled up sleeping deeply – until she wasn’t.

In a flash she was off the sofa and the URP URP URP began.

I threw aside my book (Posted by John David Anderson) and leapt to action. I grabbed the paper towels, a trash can, and the Nature’s Miracle spray. By the time I returned, Lucy had finished, but had not yet begun the canine “ritual” that often follows. I was that quick.

Although I am a gagger, I have mastered the art of cleaning dog vomit without gagging. It mostly involves lots of paper towels and turning my head to one side. And lots of breath holding.

Within a few moments, Lucy was curled up again, none the worse for wear. I washed my hands a few times, changed out the paper towels covering “the spot”, and washed my hands a few more times. Then, I, too, was curled up on the sofa, reading as if nothing had happened.

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2017 Oregon Basset Hound Games

18 Jul

When the police car pulled up, I took my attention away from what I was doing at the raffle table. I watched the officer as he stepped out of the car and moseyed over to the ring where all the action was happening. He was a very tall man and one of his strides was probably two of mine.

What have we done?  I wondered.  Did someone call in a noise complaint?

I continued watching him as he stood at the edge of the ring. From my angle at the raffle table, I couldn’t see his face, and I could stand the mystery no longer.

“I’m going to take some photos, ” I told the two people at the registration table. “Can you take over raffle ticket sales for a few minutes?” I said, not really asking.

Camera in hand, I wandered over to the ring where the Limbo was going on, and stood right next to the police officer. He reached into his breast pocket, (Will he write us a citation?) pulled out his phone and, like me, started taking pictures.

“Are you a basset hound lover?” I asked.

“Nah, just a dog lover in general,” he replied.

“Great!” I said. “Enjoy the day. It is good for some laughs.” I moved into the ring to take more photos.

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True confessions of a car stalker

11 Jul

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I’ve designated myself the parking police.

I park on the street and it has suddenly become hard to get a parking spot. So, I have become a parking detective – and snitch.During the school year, I became anxious if traffic was bad, worried these new (and unknown) interlopers would hog a space.

City laws say that you have to move your car every 24 hours, so I began noting which cars didn’t move.   I looked a little further into parking regs and learned that the city has a parking hotline. Suddenly, I had a tool to handle my concerns.

I confess, I have only called on two cars. There are criteria that have to be met.

A vehicle that remains in violation for more than 24 hours and one or more of the following conditions exist:

A.    The vehicle does not have an unexpired registration plate, fails to display current registration, or does not have them lawfully affixed to the vehicle.

As an example a vehicle with a temporary registration or a TRIP permit counts as having current registration while the temporary registration or TRIP permit is valid and visible.

B.     The vehicle appears to be inoperative or disabled.

As an example a vehicle with a flat tire is inoperative, but a vehicle that might have an impairment that is not visible is not an Abandoned Vehicle.

C.    The vehicle appears to be wrecked, partially dismantled or junked.

As an example a vehicle with a missing windshield would be considered partially dismantled. A vehicle with a missing or damaged door window would not be considered wrecked, partially dismantled, or junked as it could still be legally operated on public highways.

In both cases where I called, bright green tow warnings appeared. In the first case, the vehicle was moved. In the second case, it was towed on July 1st, almost a month after I called. Apparently Portland also has a problem with abandoned vehicles and has a backlog.

There are a couple of other vehicles I am watching. Two have been moved twice since the tow happened. One has been sitting for over a month. It’s plates are good through August. I am also vigilant about my own car and, make sure that if I don’t go anywhere, I move my car so no one thinks I’ve abandoned it.

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